The Architecture and Engineering Research Group at Chalmers University of Technology invited CORE studio to help organize a student workshop on “actively bent gridshells using geodesic curvature.” The assignment was to construct a full-scale lattice shell (gridshell) by bending strips of six-millimeter birch plywood (active bending) over the course of two days. The workshop took place in December 2017, with 25 architecture and engineering students participating.

Prior to the workshop, CORE studio performed curvature and buckling analysis studies, which included checking that prestressing induced by bending didn’t exceed the material’s capacity, and ensuring that global buckling wouldn’t occur due to self-weight and imposed loads.

Defining the laths as geodesic curves on the proposed shell surface enabled the strips to be unrolled into straight lines, simplifying the fabrication process by permitting them to be cut from plywood sheets with a manual vertical panel saw. Connecting the cut-out pieces to form longer strips allowed the shell to be fabricated using only 10 sheets of plywood. All holes for the connections were marked and drilled before the structure was erected. The length of the structure is 11 meters from end to end, and the maximum span is 5.5 meters. The highest peak is 2.5 meters.

The design was symmetrical about four axes, enabling us to fabricate eight copies of a small set of strips. The baseplates were fabricated using a CNC router. Rhino-Grasshopper was the primary tool used for design, analysis, and production of fabrication drawings.

The workshop is an excellent example of how computational design tools can be leveraged. With a strong connection between design, analysis and fabrication, the project’s workflow were highly automated, giving the team more time to improve the design. It also reduced complexity and improved communication on-site, making it possible to build the structure in just two days.

Services: Structural Engineering and Fabrication
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Practice: Structural Engineering

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