Maryanne Wachter

Although grid shells have become a viable structural form in  the past few years, their constructability remains an obstacle.  While the final form of the grid shell is  derived through dynamic relaxation or finite element methods, the actual  construction of the grid shell can be very difficult due to the nodal  connections.  In the past, steel grid  shells have utilized welding to attain the necessary nodal stiffness, while in dual  layer timber grid shells, the scaffolds were lowered very gradually to lock the  lathes into their final shape. Stiffness of non-welded connections was often an  issue as they are not as precise as welded connections.  However, structural engineering firms, like  Buro Happold, have recently used CNC technology to create custom connections  for each node to improve the fit of the gridshell connections, while also  removing the need for welding on site.   Single layer timber grid shells, like the Scunthorpe grid shell, utilize  this technology to create grid nodes of the necessary stiffness that are easy  to install.

I am interested in performing a  case study of the Scunthorpe grid shell to research the types of new joints  being used and their structural and economic limitations.  I plan on using Finite Element Analysis and  potential lab testing to analyze critical nodes of the structure with its  current joint system. I will also evaluate the use of a different type of  single-layer timber grid shell node to determine which node is more  structurally and economically efficient. This evaluation of two types of timber  grid shell nodes may also be able to extend to use in bamboo structures in  addition to timber and glulam structures.

« Go back to people