Designscape architects, along with Format Engineers, have been commissioned by
Crapper and Sons to develop a prototype building structure that could be developed
for use as commercial space for various purposes, while allowing the roof to be used
This building type forms part of a masterplan for a sustainable, self-sufficient town,
and utilises the power generated by the energy recovery plant already planned for
the site. The prototype structure uses the slope of the land to provide roof access
from the upper slope, and building access from below.
Key to the proposals is the ambition to build large spaces with a load bearing roof
structure, at relatively low cost. Designscape worked with Format Engineers to
develop the concept of a thin concrete shell structure that could span a 20m x 20m
grid with clear internal headroom up to 6m high. These shell structures had been
used widely in the 1950s and 60’s, however have largely disappeared from use due
to the high cost of shuttering formwork. The ambition of this project was to test a
method of construction that could be repeated in an infinite number of different plan
variations, avoiding this high formwork cost. After considering alternative forms of
shuttering, including pneumatic balloons and methods to avoid it altogether,
Designscape proposed that the shells be cast on earth formed to shape on site and
then excavated beneath after curing.
Crapper and Sons are experts in earthmoving and established that that they could
utilise GPS controlled equipment to sculpt the specific forms of the proposed shells.
Using parametric modelling, Format Engineers designed the minimum of
reinforcement necessary for the shells and conceived a unique method for placing it
on the earth forms using Augmented Reality headsets. The concrete is applied by
spray and then trowelled to the specified thickness. The first prototype has now
obtained planning approval and Crapper and Sons intend to test the design and
construction methodology early next year.
Full page here
Collaborators: Format Engineers