Timber Plate Shell Structures: A Digital Resurgence of Traditional Joining Methods

  • Christopher RobellerEmail author
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 24)


Thin shell structures such as vaults and domes, allow for a column-free construction over a large span. Such surface-active structure systems have been of interest for architects and engineers over centuries, both due to their structural efficiency and their elegant appearance. Only thin cross-sections and therefore small amounts of materials are required, due to the curved or even double-curved shape, which minimizes bending moments and provides a membrane action. However, the design and production of these thin shell structures has always been challenging. In particular, the construction of shells usually requires very time-consuming and costly formwork. Over time, advances in technology and new materials have changed the way vaults and shells have been designed and built, leading to new structural typologies. The construction sequence and assembly methods have always had a decisive role and a great influence. This article will describe the background and the ongoing developments in the design of plate shell structure, with a detailed focus on timber folded plates and a segmental plate shell system. The digital age has brought entirely new possibilities and materials, which may remove the cost and time constraints in the design, fabrication and production those efficient and elegant, surface-active structures. While the inspiration for new assembly methods and building material wood date back to the beginning of building history, the efficient realization can now be achieved through algorithmic geometry processing.


Computational design Digital fabrication Design for assembly Lightweight structures Shell structures 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Timber Construction DTCTU KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany

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