Stuttgart's Television Tower
The first of its kind
It took 20 months to build Stuttgart's Television Tower. On February, 5th 1956 it has been taken into operation. At that time, at no other place in the world such a bold mixture of chimney, tower and Greek column was to be found. Ten years later, Stuttgart's Television Tower allready had a considerable numer of descendants. Despite of its imposing height of 217 meters, the television tower – which has been the prototype of modern television towers all over the world – has remained a giant "en minature". Real giants among its sons in Toronto and Moskow have even exceeded the 500 meter benchmark.
In the beginning the Süddeutscher Rundfunk had the intention to instal its antennas for the transmission of television and FM-radio-broadcasts on a 200 meters high iron-grating pole, to be secured with wire-ropes, as it was usual at that time. The Stuttgart engineer Dr. Fritz Leonhardt who had gained a good reputation in bridge-building and statics, was called up by this monstrous project. His idea to let grow an elegant concrete needle out of the forest of Stuttgart-Degerloch instead of an ugly iron-grating pole and to equip it in the upper part with a basket-like casing for touristic and gastronomical purposes in order to make the television tower financially lucrative, had been accepted by the Sueddeutscher Rundfunk enthusiastically, hoping that the building expenses, in the amount of 4,2 million German Marks, would pay off soon. Success came within five years, because the bold building has attracted hundreds of thousand of visitors.
A hole 30 meters wide and 8 meters deep was excavated for the foundation of the tower. Into this "hole" a 3.25 meter wide foundation ring with an external diameter of 27 meters was put in, which is held together by a slab of prestressed concrete of the same size. It is this slab of prestressed concrete attached to the reinforced foundation ring and the foundation slab in the middle which form the lowest part of the tower. This is the part which carries the whole weight of the tower and conveys it to the ground. In order to prevent the tower with its 3.000 tons in weight from pushing the foundation ring away from the centre, the slab of prestressed concrete has been 'pre-stressed', as the name suggests, i.e. it contains strong steel wires, 8 millimeters thick which cut across the ring like the spokes of a bicycle wheel and thus hold the foundation ring togeher. The base sufficient for a 215 meter high chimney needs 60 % less material when compared with traditonal building methods.
[from: Television Tower guide. Fernsehturm-Betriebs-GmbH, Stuttgart 1991]
The LEGO model
A collegue at my office in Stuttgart with a nice view over to the Television Tower once said while looking at my Venice pictures: "Go on and build the Television Tower with LEGO." Since then I was caught by the idea of building a several feed high tower only with LEGO elements. I found some figures of the real tower and started to calculate some different scales.
A realistic scale to build seemed to be 1:80 (minifig scale is ca. 1:40). In comparison to the real tower I didn't start with the foundations. I rather started with the upper basket-like section. It's not easy building a round structure with LEGO, it's even more complicated to build a cone-shape at the first three levels. Hinge bricks in all varieties were used but the outer "skin" of this section isn't really solid.
Café and Restaurant
Next I've build the inner structure: the sky restaurant, the technic room at the lowest level and both of the observation decks. At the end the "skin" was fixed to this inner structure.
The antenna was easier to build. At the wider lower section I used the same building method as I used before for the boom of my Lattice Boom Crane. The upper antenna had to be fixed exactly in the middle of the lower section – which took some time in try and error. But I made it somehow.
The column was an exciting building experience. Could a 170 cm high column carry the basket and the antenna without falling over? And how to realise the slime cone-shape of the real column. At the basement the scale calculations said it should be 13 cm in diameter and at the top only 6 cm. Not much over a distance of 170 cm. I decided to use an octagonal style for the LEGO column. The whole column is covered with countless grey plates. The cad-picture below shows the inner structure of the column.
Around the inner structure I've fixed some long light grey technic beams to support the column and to have a chance to hold all the cover-plates. The biggest challenge was again the cone-shape and the very narrow top of the column. All beams seems to concentrate in one point.
To cover the gaps at the cover-plates I will use several hundred doorrail plates which I were able to find at bricklink.com. The main advantage of these elemens is their size. The 2- or 8-studs long plates are 1.5 studs wide. This helps a lot to cover caps while building round structures or cone-shape structures.
|Stuttgart's Television Tower||LEGO model|
|Function:||to carry TV and VHF antennas||reaching the sky with LEGO|
|Design:||Dr. Ing. Fritz Leonhardt and Architekt Dipl.-Ing. Erwin Heinle||Dipl. Tech. Red. Holger Matthes|
|Dates of Construction:||Laying of foundation stone:
Time for completion: 20 Monate
|First bricks stacked:
Time for completion: ca. 8 days (40 hours)
|Building Material:||1430 t of cement, 5250 m³ of gravel and sand, 340 t of reinforced and pre-stressing steel, 680 m³ wood, 55.000 clinker bricks and 85.000 (non LEGO) bricks||Only LEGO bricks, mostly light grey. number of pieces unknown.|
|Height:||Height of tower including antenna: 217 m||275 cm (scale ca. 1:80)|
|Weight:||3000 t above ground, 1500 t foundations, 3000 t of soil on foundations||Total weight ca. 7,5 kg (tower 4,5 kg, foundations ca. 1 kg, upper section and antenna ca. 2 kg)|
Building instructions and part lists
There are no building instructions und part lists available for the models shown on this web site. There are no engineering drawings available. To build the LEGO models only photographs from the real prototypes were used. All models are unique and not for sale.