Sightseeing observation tower

Sightseeing observation tower Freudenstadt, 2015

Competition 1st prize

Sightseeing observation tower

Thousand-metre tower on the Kniebis

The design approach of the ‘thousand-metre tower’ on the Kniebis is inspired by the structure of a fir cone, whose distinctive shape is a clear reference to the region. Thanks to its unique visual characteristics, it is a worthwhile tourist destination where visitors can experience the region’s plant life. The tower itself is a visual and spatial experience, thanks to the strong impact it makes from a distance and the impressive quality of its interior. The thousand-metre platform is the crowning touch of the overall experience and the highlight of any visit to the Kniebis.

The shape of the tower blends into the surroundings, while its structure fuses a traditional wood construction with modern computer-controlled joinery techniques. In this way, the tower showcases the potential of modern wooden construction. It remains faithful to concept at all levels: In terms of both form and construction, the tower makes a clear commitment to regional building materials, local building tradition and a vision for tourism; in doing so, it helps strengthen the region’s identity.

The ascent to the thousand-metre platform as an event

The ascent to the thousand-metre platform is an impressive experience. It is accessed and exited through an internal stairwell, which spirals upward in a 30-metre high double helix. The stair landings become intermediate platforms where visitors can rest while admiring scenic views of the surroundings. The planned wildlife enclosure can also be glimpsed from there. These elements combined make the ascent and descent a total experience, with the thousand-metre platform – the ‘crown of the Black Forest’ – as the fascinating highlight from which visitors can view the entire panorama at 360 degrees. They then descend through a separate staircase. By staging the descent through the second staircase, visitors can enjoy another exciting experience while traffic flow through the tower is optimised in a logical way to accommodate the high number of expected visitors. The way to and from the tower becomes a pilgrimage of over 1,000 m.

Using wood as a local material for a building with regional relevance

The construction consists of a wooden structure derived from the structural shape of a fir cone. It consists mainly of laminated wood, which explicitly refers to the region and its crafts. The diagonal structure is statically connected to a pipe, allowing for thin cross-sections. These are held together by a horizontal steel tension rod at the crossing points. The stairwell is also designed as a wooden structure and, with its distinctive shape, forms the ‘core’ of the fir cone. The innovative planning methods used to generate the parametric shape allow the construction to be highly optimised. The statics and shape of the ‘cone’ come together to form a single unit.


  • Client: Stadt Freudenstadt
  • Category: public
  • Typology: Observation tower
  • Height: 30 m
  • Diameter : 9 m
  • CPH: 1-9
  • Architects: Partner und Partner Architekten
  • Team: Klaus Günter, Jörg Finkbeiner, Jeroen Meissner
  • Structural engineering: Ziegert | Seiler Ingenieure GmbH
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