A Gridshell structure draws strength from its double curvature. It is constructed of a grid or lattice. The grid can be constructed from a variety of materials that range from steel to wood.  Wood is the most common, similar to a garden trellis. Gridshells are lightweight and form-resistant, a trait that enables elaborate free-flowing forms.


Japan Pavilion 2



An organic shape and column free structure of a Gridshell poses challenges for the architect and engineer. Very few exist across the world. A high level of innovation is required in the fields of design technique, construction, and material. In an attempt to better understand the fundamental process of grids we looked at traditional methods of basket weaving especially those used within the Japanese culture. Throughout the investigation we learned there are methods used to help develop and improve patterns.

Japanese Basket 2

Japanese Basket 1


As we explored forms for our Gridshell structure, we considered material, structure, and the overall experience of the patrons. We were inspired by a structure SG2012 Gridshell. It was designed and constructed at a four day workshop presented by MATSYS, Mark Cabrinha, Andrew Kudless, and David Shook. The wooden gridshell was constructed from straight wooden members that were bent along geodesic lines. Not only is the structure an amazing physical example of an organic, amorphic shape but, the beautiful examples of geometry projected in the shadows is an experience within itself. It’s a playful relationship between light and shadow.




Understand the evolution of the parametric design process utilizing the software Rhino and Grasshopper. Design and construct a gridshell structure after studying how they exist, work and behave.


Any article constructed of wood will continually expand and contract relative to changes in humidity. Wood is a hygroscopic material. The amount of moisture held by hygroscopic materials is usually proportional to the relative humidity. When it is exposed to air it will dry or pick up moisture until equilibrium is reached between the humidity and the temperature of the air. Moisture absorption causes wood to expand and moisture loss causes it to shrink. The construction of our gridshell will begin with a two dimensional, flat, grid. We will achieve a three dimensional gridshell by pushing up along the edges and releasing the stress and allowing the structure to lift and maintain balance and stability. We will wet the wood through this process allowing the wood to breathe and expand.


(40) 1/32” X ¼” X 24” Basswood, Crimp Tubes 1.3 mm X .051 in., Eye Pins 2 in., 6” Long Nose Pliers, Pencil,  Staples, Stapler,



When considering the behavior of our gridshell structure we focused on specific components: anchors, spacing, and height. Through the use of Rhino and supplemented by Grasshopper we were able to visualize the effects of the number of anchors, changes in spacing, and changes in height and their effects and the behavior of the structure. We observed the outcome of six models that encompassed these changes. We constructed a study model based from one of our digital models. We chose to create a model aided by three anchors and uneven spacing. Our design was generated from Rhino and Grasshopper. After completing the design, we used 1/32” X ¼” X 24” pieces of Basswood. We aligned the pieces to reflect the two-dimensional flat grid. With a pencil we marked points where layers intersect. These marks were useful for reference when finding connector points. Then, we used staples to secure connections where our layers of basswood intersect. We used long nose pliers to snip excess metal. Crimp tubes were used to cap the staples.  It’s important not to secure the connection too tight. That would be detrimental to the gradual lift of the structure near the end. Connections must be loose enough to provide upward mobility. Finally, after the connections had all been completed, we dampened the model with water. Gradually, we lifted the structure by pushing the edges inward. If the structure feels buoyant, tape the bottom half of the model. We allowed the structure to dry. After drying for twenty-four hours, we could then prepare to make observations and adjustments.

Option 1_Grid

Option 1

Option 1

Evenly spaced grid with 4 anchor even points. This is a 30′ x 21′ grid.

Option 2_Grid

Option 2

Option 2

Evenly spaced grid with 3 anchor even points. This is a 30′ x 30′ grid.

Option 3_Grid Option 3

Option 3

Evenly spaced grid with 4 anchor uneven points. This is a 30′ x 21′ grid.

Option 4_Grid Option 4                                                      

Option 4

Unevenly spaced grid with 4 anchor even points. This is a 30′ x 21′ grid.

Option 5_Grid Option 5                                                  

Option 5

Unevenly spaced grid with 3 anchor uneven points. This is a 30′ x 21′ grid.

Option 6_Grid Option 6

Option 6

Evenly spaced angles with 4 linear anchor points on the outer edge of grid. This is a 30′ x 21′ grid.

EXPLORATION – Option 5 – Creating a pattern with uneven spacing

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EXPLORATION – 1′ X’1′ grid – free form structure

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By constructing our study model, it allowed us to study the behavior of a wooden gridshell structure. It assisted our research by allowing us to understand its efficiency and gaining the experience to experiment further. Future experiments will encompass a variety of changes to our initial components and variables. Thus, we are in search of designing a structure that is safe, sound, and a space sought to experience.

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