Computational design exploration of a segmented concrete shell building floor system

Eduardo Costa, Robin Oval, Paul Shepherd, John Orr

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The construction industry is responsible for nearly half of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions and the use of an extremely large volume of concrete – the world's most widely used man-made material – accounts for more than 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The scale of this problem spawned research to explore the potential for structurally efficient non-prismatic geometries to reduce the amount of concrete used in building elements substantially, thus also reducing their embodied carbon dioxide footprint. In particular, the research focused on segmented thin concrete shells as floor slabs, leveraging computational design and digital fabrication methodologies to automate their production off site. An important part of this research was the development of a computational framework for the design of thin concrete shells in order to make such a construction methodology accessible to building designers in practice. The framework combines solutions for parametric modelling, finite-element analysis, isogeometric analysis, form-finding and optimisation, along with embedded fabrication constraints specific to the project's automated manufacturing system. The application of the developed computational framework in the design of a 4.5 m × 4.5 m prototype is documented in this paper, illustrating how automating concrete construction can transform the industry towards net-zero.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2200156
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Structures and Buildings
Early online date29 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2023


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