Gridshell structures

A Shell Structure is a three dimensional structure that resists applied loads through its inherent shape. There are several forms of structure that belong to this group that can be defined as load bearing structures. They carry loads by way of tension, compression. Shell structures take many forms.

Gridshells structures are lightweight, efficient and easy to assemble. We see shell structures as an opportunity to unify a space . The spaces that this type of structure is able to generate are in direct correlation with the inside as also the inside, they provide a lot of possibilities, and are flexible to the point that its users can define it.


During this week we have been learning a lot about gridshell structures, we got to experiment through digital design using Rhino and Grasshopper. This programs where an excellent tool in general, used in conjunction with Kangaroo software, they allow the generation of visualizations of what it is an almost real behavior. This programs allows us to modify and bring different sets of hypothetical scenarios and check on results before we get into the actual physical modeling of it.


For the class today we were asked to have a scale model which we completed with ¼” basswood. The basswood grid was laid out and put together with a stapler to give us a sturdy and set connection and that would allow us to have certain degree of flexibility. The grid that we built was a 21”x 30” grid that was scaled to 1’=  ½ “. In this way giving us insight in to the proportions that where going to be used to create this model in real life.

After making use of the software and going through different iterations we came to the following results.

The components that where observed on this studies were based out of the anchor points. These mainly varied in location, in length, and in shape.

Example 1

example 1

The first example approach was to find a desired curve shape using the 4 anchor points given, this were placed in different areas of the grid. And the result is a shape that we enjoyed as the curves in elevation allowed a space big enough for a person to go through them.  We found out that as we visualize this structure, we wanted for people to experience them from the inside as well.

Example 2

example 2

In this example we took out one of the anchor point to be left with 3 and move them through the gird to come with the resulting shape, this time we notice that a big portion of the grid can actually go into ground as also we can get curve shapes that would allow for people to go inside.

Example 3

example 3

For this example we still used three anchor points, however this time we curved this anchorpoints. We noticed that when curves where used, the model would allow the anchorpoints to drive closer, without looking to forced.

Example 4

example 4

This example was produced using 5 curved anchor points, with this points the model allowed us for some flexibility, however we noticed that the actual form of the grid was more apparent and in a way less graceful as the other examples

Example 5

example 5

For this example we went back to having 3  anchor points then we arranged them in linear way, across the grid, to come up to the resulting shape . by this time we also wanted to explore the idea of leaving off part of the corner grid to be untuched by anchors

Example 6 (Physical Model)

example 6

As this was our last model  this was approached more from the standpoint of a conjunction of both the digital and the physical model we knew that we could not go far into the ground and wanted to keep  the structural integrity of the shell as well as a walkable and enjoyed space as also was set to include one of the corner to be part of the structure. The resulting shape was as laid out and was successful in incorporating the different points that were becoming evident as we worked in the digitalized models.

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