Shells are continuous surface-active structures. In architecture, they have frequently been realized in the form of wide-span roof systems. Historically, the assembly and manufacturing strategy of these impressive buildings was highly dependent on manual labour and expertise. Concrete had to be (dry) poured onto a scaffold by hand.
Today, prefabrication possibilities are immense. Shipyards are able to assemble large scale pieces of steel into almost any imaginable form. Learning from our partners in the automotive industry, we have investigated lightweight construction principles in order to assess their applicability to the construction of wide span shells and cantilevers.
The monocoque system is one avenue of this investigation. The concept is to form a surface in which inner and outer layers act together as a unified, structural whole. On the building scale, this surface has to be thickened to a considerable extent, but this can be achieved by constructing inner and outer surfaces separately and then interconnecting them through a spaceframe. The principle is similar to that of a dissolved shell, where the entire cross-section is not utilized, but the upper and lower sections are built independently then structurally interconnected.