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Timber gridshells: Numerical simulation, design and construction of a full scale structure

D'Amico, B.; Kermani, A.; Zhang, H.; Pugnale, A.; Colabella, S.; Pone, S.


A. Kermani

A. Pugnale

S. Colabella

S. Pone


Timber gridshell structures, such as the Multihalle for the federal garden festival in Mannheim or the Downland
Museum, have been the result of a creative–generative process that indissolubly ‘welded’ the structural contribution
to that of form exploration. The challenging design and construction issues have been typically addressed
and resolved in several inventive ways. However, still now, form-finding and erection of timber gridshells present
many difficulties. In this regard, this paper aims to provide a series of novel steps to address some of the main
design and construction issues that are associated with ‘actively-bent’ timber gridshell structures. First, the main
characteristics of the construction process of timber gridshells are described and the basic theoretical concepts
for its numerical simulation, through Dynamic Relaxation method, are introduced. Second, a practical method
for sizing the laths' cross-section is presented. Third, a new erection technique for timber gridshells is proposed
and applied to the construction of a full scale (prototype) structure, the Toledo gridshell 2.0. Fourth, a new bracing
system for the same structure, which was built at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Naples Federico II
in June–July 2014, is explained and discussed. The paper also highlights the need for further application to validate
the techniques explained here, with particular attention being paid for the construction of large scale freeform


D'Amico, B., Kermani, A., Zhang, H., Pugnale, A., Colabella, S., & Pone, S. (2015). Timber gridshells: Numerical simulation, design and construction of a full scale structure. Structures, 3, 227-235.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 17, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 2, 2015
Publication Date 2015-08
Deposit Date Jun 5, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 5, 2015
Journal Structures
Print ISSN 2352-0124
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Pages 227-235
Keywords Gridshell; Active-bending; Timber; Dynamic Relaxation; Computational form-finding;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jun 5, 2015


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