Construction Is Underway on the World’s Tallest 3D-Printed Building

To date, 8 of the building's 32 columns are printed

Tor Alva
A rendering of the forthcoming building
Digital Building Technologies/YouTube

When discussing 3D printing and architecture, the discourse usually focuses on the technology’s ability to help architects see their creations come to life in model form. But what if 3D printing could go one step beyond and actually create human-scale inhabitable structures? While not yet widespread, using 3D printing for the entirety of a given building is on the rise, and the tallest such structure of its kind is currently under construction.

That would be Tor Alva — or “White Tower” — a structure that will eventually be located in the Swiss Alps. As Amy Peacock reports at Dezeen, eight of the building’s columns have been printed so far, with 24 remaining. Among the project’s goals are to invigorate the village of Mulegns, establishing it as a cultural destination.

Tor Alva’s website describes the space as “a walk-in installation, an intimate concert space and a place of cultural mediation.” The shape of the tower is intended as an homage to the confectioners who have historically plied their trade in the Grisons canton of Switzerland — though the columns that comprise the building are stronger than they might initially seem. As architect Michael Hansmeyer told Dezeen, the material printed using the technology contains a blend of concrete and rebar.

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Tor Alva is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024 and will stand 90 feet tall and accommodate 45 visitors at a time. It’s a fascinating blend of regional history and modern technology — and it’ll also be an intriguing proof of concept for what architects and engineers are capable of accomplishing with 3D printing.

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