© Rintala Eggertsson Architects

Who Needs Steel Anyway? 8 Timber Towers Reaching New Heights

When building up, steel is moving out.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

For its 11th season, Architizer has created a suite of sustainability-focused A+Awards recognizing designers working toward a better future. Start your submission today

When building up, steel is moving out. While steel became the definitive building material supporting the proliferation of skyscrapers, a series of new wooden projects are pushing the boundaries of high-rise construction. Across the world, designs like LEVER Architecture’s 12-story “Framework” tower, Kengo Kuma’s Alberni Tower, or Shigeru Ban’s Terrace House reveal a trend towards timber architecture. Overcoming stringent building codes to prove their load-bearing capacities and fire-resistant designs, these projects offer a new perspective on structure and verticality.

The following collection showcases wooden towers that were built to frame experiences and stand as landmarks and lookouts. Shaping local and regional identity, these towers combine observation areas with assembly space or places for reflection. While programmatically similar, the designs mix viewing platforms and terraces with exhibition or commercial space. Each project breaks down scale by emphasizing wood’s materiality or assembly. Collectively, they begin to transform how we understand the evolution of verticality in architecture.

© Cumulus Studio

© Cumulus Studio

© Cumulus Studio

© Cumulus Studio

Devil’s Corner by Cumulus Studio, Apslawn, Australia

Oriented to views of the Freycinet Peninsula Mountains and the Moulting Lagoon, Devil’s Corner overlooks one of Tasmania’s largest vineyards. The tower connects to a timber-clad local market and seasonal event space through black shipping containers.

© Anssi Lassila

© Anssi Lassila

© Anssi Lassila

© Anssi Lassila

Periscope Tower by Oopeaa Office for Peripheral Architecture, Seinäjoki, Finland

As an observation tower that engages the landscape, this design features both an elevated viewing deck and a ground floor periscope mirror. Formed around views over the nearby lake, the project was made with cross-laminated timber and an external, load-bearing wooden frame.

© Ateliereen Architecten

© Ateliereen Architecten

© R.J.M. Nieraeth

© R.J.M. Nieraeth

Viewing Tower Lommel by Ateliereen Architecten, Lommel, Belgium

Rising between pine trees and nearby sand dunes, this tower was built with a triangular steel structure. Inspired by the Lommelse Sahara dunes, the façade was created with waving rope lines, as well as stairs and platforms clad in wood.

© Rintala Eggertsson Architects

© Rintala Eggertsson Architects

© Rintala Eggertsson Architects

© Rintala Eggertsson Architects

Seljord Watchtower by Rintala Eggertsson Architects, Seljord, Norway

Inspired by the myth about the sea serpent of Seljord Lake, this viewing tower was realized as a platform among its surroundings. The project was built with different spaces like a bird nesting area and park area that are oriented to the nearby town.

© ARHIS

© ARHIS

© ARHIS

© ARHIS

Observation Tower by ARHIS, Jūrmala, Latvia

Rising 100 feet above the sea and the city of Jūrmala, Observation Tower was made with galvanized metal profiles and pine wood trusses. Open to the public since 2010, the design includes 12 balconies along a metallic grid overlooking the surrounding landscape.

© HAMR Huť architektury Martin Rajniš

© HAMR Huť architektury Martin Rajniš

© HAMR Huť architektury Martin Rajniš

© HAMR Huť architektury Martin Rajniš

Scholzberg Tower by Huť architektury / Architecture Guild, Lučany nad Nisou, Czech Republic

Scholzberg was built as a circular tower around a spiral staircase. Seemingly formed as a floating double helix within a rectangular plan, the project was made entirely by students.

© Saunders Architecture

© Saunders Architecture

© Saunders Architecture

© Saunders Architecture

Solberg Tower & Park by Saunders Architecture, Sarpsborg, Norway

Designed as a lookout and viewing tower along a route from Norway to Sweden, the Solberg Tower was made for travelers to engage with nature along their journey. The elevated tower space provides visitors with views of the landscape, including along the coastline and the Oslo fjord.

© ALKF+ (Andrew Lee King Fun and Associates Architects)

© ALKF+ (Andrew Lee King Fun and Associates Architects)

© ALKF+ (Andrew Lee King Fun and Associates Architects)

© ALKF+ (Andrew Lee King Fun and Associates Architects)

© Ross Campbell. Photographer.

© Ross Campbell. Photographer.

The Pyramid Viewpoint by BTE Architecture, Inveruglas, United Kingdom

Located on a peninsula overlooking the U.K.’s largest stretch of inland water, this viewpoint was formed as a triangular platform at the end of a long curved path. The narrow vertical stack and all its walls, steps and benches were finished with a vertical timber rain screen.

For its 11th season, Architizer has created a suite of sustainability-focused A+Awards recognizing designers working toward a better future. Start your submission today

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