# Space frame

The roof of this industrial building is supported by a space frame structure. A space frame or space structure is a truss-like, lightweight rigid structure constructed from interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frames can be used to span large areas with few interior supports. Like the truss, a space frame is strong because of the inherent rigidity of the triangle; flexing loads (bending moments) are transmitted as tension and compression loads along the length of each strut.

Contents
[hide]
y y y

y y y

1 Overview 2 History 3 Applications o 3.1 Construction o 3.2 Vehicles 4 Design methods 5 See also 6 External links

 Overview

Simplified space frame roof with the half-octahedron highlighted in blue

 Applications If a force is applied to the blue node. by I. the behaviour of the structure depends completely on the bending rigidity of the blue node. the system can be calculated using a rigidity matrix. Buckminster Fuller's focus was architectural structures.  Construction Space frames are a common feature in modern construction. If the red bar is present. More complex variations change the lengths of the struts to curve the overall structure or may incorporate other geometrical shapes. his work had greater influence. Few of his designs were realised. (1989) . Sweden . Notable examples of buildings based on space frames include: y y y y y y Stansted airport in London. Pei Rogers Centre by Rod Robbie and Michael Allan McCormick Place East in Chicago Eden Project in Cornwall. England Globen.The simplest form of space frame is a horizontal slab of interlocking square pyramids built from aluminium or tubular steel struts. Bell's interest was primarily in using them to make rigid frames for nautical and aeronautical engineering. and the red bar is not present. neglecting angular factors. and the bending rigidity of the blue node is negligible compared to the contributing rigidity of the red bar.Dome with diameter of 110 m. More technically this is referred to as an isotropic vector matrix or in a single unit width an octet truss. they are often found in large roof spans in modernist commercial and industrial buildings. In many ways this looks like the horizontal jib of a tower crane repeated many times to make it wider. M.  History Space frames were independently developed by Alexander Graham Bell around 1900 and Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s. by Foster and Partners Bank of China Tower and the Louvre Pyramid. A stronger purer form is composed of interlocking tetrahedral pyramids in which all the struts have unit length.

The idea and model was forwarded to the US Department of Transportation in Washington. Department of Transportation office in Fort Worth. in a monocoque design.  See also y y y y y Platonic solids Body-on-frame Monocoque Backbone chassis Tensegrity  External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Space frames Information about space structures from the University of Surrey octet truss 3D animation y y . the suspension. He showed a staff person there how the octet truss was ideal for holding signs over roads. D. In February 1986. Ferrari 360. chassis. Tube-frame chassis are frequently used in certain types of racing cars. Arizona Large portable stages and lighting gantries are also frequently built from space frames and octet trusses. Texas. the octet truss is the structure of choice for holding signs above roads in the United States. the body serves as part of the structure. engine. Kranz walked into the U. with a model of an octet truss. such as those designed byAlex Moulton. and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The special characteristic of the stiffness matrix in an architectural space frame is the independence of the angular factors.  Vehicles Space frames are sometimes used in the chassis designs of automobiles and motorcycles. C. or tube-frame. the angular deflections can be neglected. Other notable examples of tube -frame cars include the Audi A8. and the body panels have little or no structural function. and body panels are attached to a skeletal space frame. Space frames have also been used in bicycles. simplifying the calculations. Lotus Seven. British manufacturers TVR were particularly well known for their tube-frame chassis designs. Lamborghini Gallardo. By contrast. Today. S. In a space-frame. Paul C.y Biosphere 2 in Oracle. If the joints are sufficiently rigid. produced since the 1950s.  Design methods Space frames are typically designed using a rigidity matrix.

in practice. Space structures may be divided into three categories. external loads. towers. the external loads as well as the internal forces are in a single plane.http://www3. foldable assemblies and tensegrity forms. membrane systems. fibre reinforced composites. Space structures cover an enormous range of shapes and are constructed using differentmaterials such as steel.ac. This is in contrast with a 'plane structure'. In the case of a space structure. To elaborate. However. the combination of the configuration. aluminium. . timber.surrey. internal forces and displacements of the structure extends beyond a single plane. that involves no more than two dimensions. both in its initial unloaded state and in its deformed loaded state. or a combination of these. domes. This is the plane that also contains the (idealised) structure itself. concrete. barrel vaults. in the case of a plane structure. such as a plane truss.htm What is a Space Structure ? Introduction Grids Double layer grids Biform grids Barrel vaults Domes Biform and continuous domes and barrel vaults References Introduction The term 'space structure' refers to a structural system that involves three dimensions. cable nets. glass.uk/eng/research/ems/ssrc/intro. the term 'space structure' is simply used to refer to a number of families of structures that include grids. The above definition is the 'formal' definition of a space structure. namely.

gymnasiums. is the simplest pattern for a flat grid. The reason for classification of a flat grid as a space structure is that its external loads and displacements do not lie in the plane that contains its (idealised) configuration. 2d. 1. Two examples of this type of operation are shown in Fig. consists of two parallel sets of interconnected beams that are disposed obli uely with respect to the boundary lines. 'continuous space structures' t at consist of components such as slabs. 1b. Gri A 'grid' is a structural system involving one or more planar layers of elements [1]. The external loading system for a flat grid consists of forces perpendicular to the plane of the grid and/or moments whose axes lie in the plane of the grid. rail ay stations. in particular. This is illustrated in Fig. there are also many other grid patterns that are commonly used. However. shown in Fig. structures for outer space) and many other purposes. elements. membranes. The two terms are considered to be synonymous. cultural centres. 2a is obtained from a three-way pattern by omitting every other beam line. 2a with the omitted beam lines shown by dotted lines. leisure centres. 1 are frequently used in practice. The term 'spatial structure' is sometimes used instead of 'space structure'. normall elongated. and 'biform space structures' that consist of a combination of discrete and continuous parts. Figs 1c to 1f show some basic three-way and four-way grid patterns. consists of a planar arrangement of rigidly connected beam elements. 1. supernal structures (that is. The basic grid patterns of Fig. These patterns are normally derived by removal of some elements from the basic patterns of Fig. The diagonal pattern. . shopping malls. barrel vaults and domes. shells. shown in Fig. 2. auditoriums. 2b is obtained from a four-way pattern by removal of a number of beam lines as indicated in Fig. 1a. showing a part of the grid of Fig. transmission towers.y y y 'l tti space st ct es' t at consist of discrete. It consists of two sets of interconnected beams that run parallel to the boundary lines. The grid of Fig. A number of basic grid patterns are illustrated in Fig. The 'two-way' pattern. Space structure forms are at the centre of attention in the present review with emphasis on the geometric characteristics of lattice space structures and. radio telescopes. or 'flat grid'. The grid pattern in Fig. aircraft hangars. 2c. There are numerous examples of space structures that are built for sports stadiums. A 'single layer grid'. the families of grids.

one would li e to find the most suitable pattern for the particular application. However. A question that arises naturally in this relation is: Are there some general principles or guidelines through which the structural behaviour of different grid patterns can be classified and used for selecting the 'right' pattern for every design case? The answer is that different grid patterns do indeed have their own characteristics. support .Figure 1: Some basic patterns Figure 2: Pattern creation by element removal In designing a grid configuration. there are no inherent 'good' or 'bad' grid patterns and the suitability of a pattern for each particular case should be considered with regard to the shape and si e of the boundary.

material(s) to be used and the manner in which the structure is to be constructed. In the case of the grid of Fig. 3b. Here. the top and bottom layers are of an identical shape and are positioned such that their plan views are coincident. 3a. . Views of some commonly used patterns of double layer grids are shown in Fig. 3c. A truss grid may be regarded as a flat grid whose elements are trusses. This grid is obtained from the grid of Fig. 3c.positions. The double layer grid of Fig. the diagonal truss grid of Fig. 3e from the grid of Fig. in this case all the web elements lie in vertical planes. Also. The result is a double layer grid that effectively consists of a number of intersecting plane trusses. A double layer grid of a different kind is shown in Fig. A primary double layer grid pattern. 3b. such as the one shown in Fig. A grid of this type is referred to as a 'truss grid'. These comments also apply in relation to all other space structure forms. An example of this is shown in Fig. the 'top' layer elements are shown by thick lines and the 'bottom' layer elements as well as the 'web' elements are shown by thin lines. Also. A similar process is used for obtaining the reduced grid of Fig. In this figure. both the top and bottom layers have a diagonal pattern. 3. There are also many double layer grids built with a two-way pattern for one of the layers and a diagonal pattern for the other layer. Doubl l r gri A 'double layer grid' consists of two (nominally) parallel layers of elements that are interconnected together with 'web' elements [1]. 3a by removing the bottom layer and web elements that are connected to a number of bottom layer nodes. is often used as a basis for the creation of various 'reduced forms' by removing a number of elements. 3a consists of a two-way top layer and a two-way bottom layer. 3f is obtained by removing the non-boundary third-direction trusses of the grid of Fig. 3d. loading characteristics.

(Courtesy of Tomoe Corporation) (Click on it to enlarge 180k) There is a fundamental difference between the structural behaviour of flat grids and that of double layer (or multilayer) grids. a steel flat grid may be combined with a reinforced concrete slab. . Bending moments. Also. There are also many examples of double layer (and multilayer) grids with incorporated membrane parts.Figure 3: Examples of double layer grids Grids may also involve more than two layers of elements. the main internal forces in the elements of double layer (or multilayer) grids are axial forces. shear forces and torques. However. Bi orm gri Certain types of biform grids are frequently used in practice: y y y Flat grids are often built in reinforced concrete with an integrated slab at the top. shear forces and torques are also present in the elements of double layer (or multilayer) grids in various proportions depending on the cross-sectional properties of the elements and the jointing system. the non-axial force effects in these cases are normally secondary. There are many instances of steel double layer (or multilayer) grids with the top layer replaced by (or embedded in) reinforced concrete slabs. In contrast. Namely. allowing for greater structural depth to cater for longer spans. flat grids are 'bending dominated' with the elements being under bending moments.

the barrel vault of Fig. a biform space structure that consists of a combination of discrete elements (in any material) and continuous membrane parts is referred to as a 'hybrid space structure'. will not be considered as a composite double layer grid unless the slab and the grid are designed to interact structurally. A double layer barrel vault is shown in Fig. Barrel vaul (Courtesy of Taiyo Kogyo Corporation) (Click on it to enlarge 180k) A 'barrel vault' is obtained by 'arching' a grid along one direction [2]. Also. the lattice part of the structure is expected to be self-contained (that is. normally. two or more layers of elements. Thus. to be load-bearing by itself). Fig. 4. which has a reinforced concrete slab at the top. 4b is similar to the one in Fig. Also. it should be noted that. Also. in this case the disposition of the elements . Some examples of barrel vault configurations are shown in Fig. However. Thus. in the case of a hybrid space structure. 4a shows a single layer barrel vault that is obtained by arching a diagonal flat grid. 4d has a top layer and a bottom layer with interconnecting web elements. However. a membrane structure with a number of individual support poles will not be regarded as a hybrid structure. 4a but has a three-way pattern. A barrel vault with a diagonal pattern is often referred to as a 'lamella barrel vault'. a space structure is considered to be biform provided that both the discrete and continuous parts play significant structural roles. The barrel vault in Fig. 4c with both the top and bottom layers having a two-way pattern. The result is a cylindrical form that may involve one.A biform space structure that consists of a combination of discrete steel elements and continuous reinforced concrete parts is traditionally referred to as a 'composite space structure'. a doublelayer grid.

or it may consist of a patchwork of different surfaces. An example of a 'compound barrel vault' is shown in Fig. a barrel vault may have a cross-section which has an elliptic. When the number of ribs is large then there could be a problem regarding the . 4 are circular. A rib is a group of elements that lie along a meridional line and a ring is a group of elements that constitute a hori ontal polygon. The surface of the lamella barrel vault of Fig.results in a 'truss barrel vault'. 4g. Examples of this are shown in Figs 4e and 4f. 5. A compound barrel vault consists of two or more barrel vaults that are connected together along their sides. However. that is. The compound barrel vault of Fig. 4f is a part of an ellipsoid of revolution. The shape of the cross-section of a barrel vault may vary along its longitudinal axis. the surface of the barrel vault of Fig. A ribbed dome consists of a number of intersecting 'ribs' and 'rings'. Also. The dome shown in Fig. The surface of a dome may be a part of a single surface such as a sphere or a paraboloid. A ribbed dome will not be structurally stable unless it is designed as a rigidly-jointed system. 4b. Figure 4 : Examples of barrel vaults The cross-sections of the barrel vaults in Fig. Domes A 'dome' is a structural system that consists of one or more layers of elements that are 'arched' in all directions [3]. a barrel vault that consists of intersecting curved trusses. 4e is a part of a hyperboloid of revolution. a parabolic or many other shapes. Some commonly used basic single layer dome configurations are shown in Fig. 4g is obtained by combining three barrel vaults identical to the one in Fig. 5a is a 'ribbed dome'.

2c. One way of avoiding this problem is to cut back the upper parts of some of the ribs. 5f. Schwedler who built many domes of this kind). An example of a 'lamella dome' is shown in Fig. The result is a dome configuration that is referred to as a 'Schwedler dome' (after the nineteenth century German engineer J. The pattern of the diamatic dome of Fig. 5g by removing every other line of elements in a manner similar to that shown in Fig. W. An example of a 'trimmed ribbed dome' is shown in Fig. (Courtesy of Tomoe Corporation) (Click on it to enlarge 180k) A modified form of a ribbed dome is obtained by 'bracing' the quadrilateral panels of the dome. 5b when every other rib is 'trimmed' to the level of the fourth ring from the top. An example of a trimmed lamella dome with rings is shown in Fig. This dome configuration also involves trimming to avoid overcrowding of the elements at the upper part of the dome. Such an operation is referred to as 'trimming'. A lamella dome has a diagonal pattern and may involve one or more rings. Another example is shown in Fig. The dome shown in Fig. 5h is obtained from a denser version of the dome of Fig.'overcrowding' of the elements near the crown. 5e. The dome configurations shown in Figs 5g and 5h are two examples of a family of domes that are referred to as 'diamatic domes' [4]. 5d. A simple example of a Schwedler dome is shown in Fig. 5c. . 5g is an example of a basic diamatic form consisting of triangulated sectors.

A dome of this kind is obtained by mapping patterns on the faces of a polyhedron and projecting the resulting configuration onto a curved surface [3. A grid dome is obtained by projecting a plane grid pattern onto a curved surface. This comment also applies to the case of single layer barrel vaults. A 'geodesic' dome configuration is shown in Fig. The dome of Fig. 5].Figure 5: Examples of single layer domes The domes shown in Figs 5i and 5j represent two examples of the family of 'grid domes' [3. An important point that should be borne in mind is that one should be careful in using single layer domes unless the jointing system provides sufficient rigidity for the connections and that the elements are designed for resisting bending and shear in addition to the axial forces. 5k. The geodesic dome of Fig. Also. 5i is obtained by projection of a denser version of the pattern of Fig. 2b. The grid dome of Fig. . 5l is obtained in a similar manner with the initial pattern chosen such that the resulting dome has a honeycomb appearance. The configurations shown in Fig. 2a onto a spherical surface. Included in these are 'truss domes' that consist of intersecting curved trusses. 6]. 5k is obtained by mapping a triangulated pattern on five neighbouring faces of an icosahedron (20-faced regular polyhedron) and projecting the result onto a sphere which is concentric with the icosahedron. there are a large number of double layer (and multilayer) dome patterns that may be obtained from the combinations of the basic patterns. 5 represent the basic dome patterns but there are many other dome patterns that are obtained as variations of the basic forms. the structures will be prone to snapthrough buckling. 5j is obtained in a similar manner using a denser version of the pattern of Fig. Otherwise. The grid dome of Fig. Grid domes are normally rather shallow with their rise to span ratios being smaller than the other types of domes.

Editors: H Nooshin and Z S Makowski. throughout the globe. A Technique for Surface Generation. H. Design and Construction of Double Layer Grids. Also. Z S (Editor). Design and Construction of Braced Barrel Vaults. Diamatic Transformations. pp 343-384 Sources of general information about space structures y [1] International Journal of Space Structures (currently in its twelfth volume). timber and fibre reinforced composites. 1981 (Obtainable from Chapman & Hall Publishers) [2] Makowski. Z S (Editor). pp 71-82 [5] Nooshin. O. 1985 (Obtainable from Chapman & Hall Publishers) [3] Makowski. P and Champion. Milan. Italy. H. including some very impressive ones. Elsevier Applied Science Publishers Ltd. Disney. Present and Future. pp 331-338 [6] Nooshin. Edited by G C Giuliani. Granada Publishing Ltd. there is the ingenious igloo which is a continuous dome structure made from snow blocks. Stuttgart. Proceedings of the Symposium on Spatial Structures: Heritage. Germany. A hybrid dome or barrel vault consists of a load bearing lattice framework and structurally active membrane parts. Edited by K U Blet inger et al. June 1995. 1997. 1984 [4] Nooshin. October 1996. Published by Multi- . Applied Science Publishers Ltd. chapter 12 in the book: Beyond the Cube: The Architecture of Space Frames and Polyhedra. References y y y y y y [1] Makowski.Bi orm and continuous domes and barrel vaults There are many examples of biform domes and barrel vaults both in composite and hybrid forms. Published by Institute fur Konstruktion und Entwurf II. Continuous domes and barrel vaults have been constructed in various masonry materials since the ancient times and there exist thousands of such structures. Edited by: J Francois Gabriel. Analysis. John Wiley & Sons. H. H and Tomatsuri. A composite dome or barrel vault consists of a steel lattice framework with an incorporated reinforced concrete shell which is designed to interact with the lattice part structurally. Z S (Editor). Computer Aided Processing of Polyhedric Configurations. Analysis. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Conceptual Design of Structures. Modern continuous domes and barrel vaults are normally built using reinforced concrete. Design and Construction of Braced Domes. Analysis.

Alfonso XII. Blackwell Scientific Publications. Alfonso XII. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Space Structures. 1967 [4] Supple. Spain [9] Proceedings of Past Conferences Organised by the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. UK. 1984 (Obtainable from Chapman & Hall Publishers) [6] Nooshin. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Space Structures (held in London. 107 High Street. Thomas Telford Services Ltd. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Space Structures. Published by the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. 1991 [7] Parke. Editor: J Abel. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Space Structures. 1993 [8] Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (currently in its 38th volume). Brentwood. R M (Editor). 3-28014 Madrid.y y y y y y y y Science Publishing Co Ltd. G A R and Howard. Z S. held at the University of Surrey. C M (Editors). W J (Editor). UK. Michael Joseph Ltd. Spain . September 1975 [5] Nooshin. Studies in Space Structures. Essex CM14 4RX. Steel Space Structures. 328014 Madrid. H (Editor). Elsevier Applied Science Publishers Ltd. UK [2] Makowski. London. Multi-Science Publishing Co Ltd. 1965 [3] Davies. H (Editor). September 1966).