Lattice Shell Methodologies: Material Values, Digital Parameters

  • Mark CabrinhaEmail author
  • Dante Testolini
  • Ben Korman
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 24)


Lattice shells combine an elegance of form with the efficiency of structure driven by the material constraints of straight lath members that can be bent into shape. While formally expressive, the form is the result of an explicit methodology combining form-finding, material constraints, and construction logistics. As the boundary curve establishes the constraints of the system, it is the boundary curve, not the surface, which gives the designer discretion over form. From this boundary constraint, the form is developed through the forces applied in the form-finding process such as a vertical load vector (pushing) and/or surface relaxation (stretching or equalizing). Although these values can be adjusted by the designer, they are only meaningful when calibrated by material constraints. Through physical testing real-time material feedback can be embedded into the parametric system. In combination with form-finding, the use of geodesics constrains fits lath members to the compound curved shell such that it can be constructed from straight lath members. As an elegant response to how material can inform form, by integrating these processes into a parametric workflow, further attention can be applied to other design criteria including spatial development and environmental response while maintaining the elegance and structural economy of shell structures.


Lattice shells Gridshells Form-finding Geodesics Digital fabrication 


  1. Bezier P (1998) A view of the CAD/CAM development period. IEEE Ann Hist Comput 20(2):37–40Google Scholar
  2. Bechtold M (2008) Innovative surface structures: technologies and applications. Taylor FrancisGoogle Scholar
  3. Billington D (1983) The tower and the bridge: the new art of structural engineering. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Burkhardt B (1978) IL 13: Multihalle Mannheim. Institute for Lightweight Structures, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  5. Cabrinha M (2008) Gridshell tectonics: material values digital parameters. silicone + skin. In: Proceedings of the association for computer-aided design in architecture (ACADIA), Minneapolis, Michigan, pp 118–125Google Scholar
  6. Cabrinha M (2010) (In)Forming: the affordances of digital fabrication in architectural education. Dissertation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. DeLanda M (2004) Material complexity. In: Leach N, Turnbull D, Williams C (eds) Digital tectonics. Wiley-Academy Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Focillon H (1934/1992) The life of forms in art. Zone Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Harris R, Romer J, Kelly O, Johson S (2003) Design and construction of the downland gridshell. Build Res Inf 6(31):427–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harris R, Haskins S, Roynon J (2008) The Savill garden gridshell: design and construction. Struct Eng 86(17):27–34Google Scholar
  11. Herzog T (2000) Expodach: roof structure at the world exhibition, Hanover 2000. PrestelGoogle Scholar
  12. Johnson S (2006) The architecture ensemble. In: Architectural design, pp 96–99MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nerdinger W (2005) Frei Otto complete works: lightweight construction natural design. Birkhäuser BaselGoogle Scholar
  14. Poretti S (2010) Pier Luigic Nervi, an Italian Builder. In: Olmo C, Chiorino C (2010) Pier Luigi Nervi: architecture as challenge. Silvana Editoriale, MilanGoogle Scholar
  15. Turnbull D (1993) The ad hoc collective work of building gothic cathedrals with templates, string, and geometry. Sci Technol Human Values 18(3):315–340MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA
  2. 2.d2bdesignCayucosUSA

Personalised recommendations