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Shells and Domes


Shell is a type of building enclosures.

Shells belong to the family of arches . They can be
defined as curved or angled structures capable of
transmitting loads in more than two directions to
A shell with one curved surface is known as a vault
(single curvature ).
A shell with doubly curved surface is known as a dome
(double curvature).

Classification of shells

There are many different ways to classify shell

structures but two ways are common:
1. The material which the shell is made of: like
reinforced concrete, plywood or steel, because
each one has different properties that can
determine the shape of the building and
therefore, these characteristics have to be
considered in the design.
.The shell thickness: shells can be thick or thin.2

Thin Concrete Shells

The thin concrete shell structures are a lightweight
construction composed of a relatively thin shell made of
reinforced concrete, usually without the use of internal
supports giving an open unobstructed interior. The shells are
most commonly domes and flat plates, but may also take the
form of ellipsoids or cylindrical sections, or some combination
thereof. Most concrete shell structures are commercial and
sports buildings or storage facilities.

There are two important factors in the development of the thin

concrete shell structures:
The first factor is the shape which was was developed along
the history of these constructions. Some shapes were resistant
and can be erected easily. However, the designers incessant
desire for more ambitious structures did not stop and new
shapes were designed.
The second factor to be considered in the thin concrete shell
structures is the thickness, which is usually less than 10

Types of Thin Concrete

1. Barrels shells
The cylindrical thin shells, also
called barrels, should not be
confused with the vaults even
with the huge similarity in the
shape of both structures,
because each of these
structures has a different
structural behavior as well as
different requirements in the
minimum thickness and the

On one hand, the structural behavior of the vault is

based on connected parallel arches, which transmit
the same effort to the supports . Therefore, the
materials used in these structures have to be able to
resists compressions (e.g. stone) and the thickness is
usually higher. Furthermore, the shape of the vaults
must be as similar as possible to the arch in order to
achieve the optimum structural behavior.
On the other hand, the structural behavior of the
barrels shell is that it carries load longitudinally as a
beam and transversally as an arch. and therefore, the
materials have to resist both compression and tension
stresses. This factor takes advantage of the bars of
the reinforced concrete, because these elements can
be placed where tension forces are needed and
therefore, the span to thickness Ratios can be
increased. Furthermore, the shape has fewer
requirements than the vaults and therefore, new
curves like the ellipse or the parabola can be used
improving the aesthetic quality of the structure.

Types of Thin Concrete

2. Folded plate
A thin-walled building
structure of the shell type.
Advantages of Folded Plate Roofs over
Shell Roofs are:
(a) Movable form work can be employed.
(b) Form work required is relatively simpler.
(c) Design involves simpler calculations.
Disadvantages of Folded Plate Roofs over
Shell Roofs are:
(a) Folded plate consumes more material than
(b) Form work may be removed after 7 days

Folded plate types

Folded Plates system

Folded-Plate Hut in Osaka

Folded Plates Library

Types of Thin Concrete

3. Hyperbolic Paraboloid
A Hypar is a surface curved in two
directions that can be designed as a
shell or warped lattice.
A hypar is triangular, rectangular
or rhomboidal in plan, with corners
raised to the elevation desired for use
and/or appearance. The edges of
Hypars are typically restrained by stiff
hollow beams that collect & transfer
roof loads to the foundations.


Types of shells
4. Various Double Curvature

Types of Thin Concrete

5. Dome
A rounded roof, with a
circular base, shaped like an
arch in all directions.. First
used in much of the Middle
East and North Africa
whence it spread to other
parts of the Islamic world,
because of its distinctive
form the dome has, like the
minaret, become a symbol of
Islamic architecture.
Dome has double curvature
and the resulting structure is
much stiffer and stronger
than a single curved surface,

Types of Thin Concrete

6. Translation Shells
A translation shell is a dome
set on four arches. The shape
is different from a spherical
dome and is generated by a
vertical circle moving on
another circle. All vertical
slices have the same radius.
It is easier to form than a
spherical dome.

Advantages of Concrete Shells

The curved shapes often used for concrete shells
are naturally strong structures, allowing wide areas
to be spanned without the use of internal supports,
giving an open, unobstructed interior. The use of
concrete as a building material reduces both
materials cost and the construction cost, as
concrete is relatively inexpensive and easily cast
into compound curves.

Disadvantages of Concrete Shells

Since concrete is porous material, concrete
domes often have issues with sealing. If not treated,
rainwater can seep through the roof and leak into
the interior of the building. On the other hand, the
seamless construction of concrete domes prevents
air from escaping, and can lead to buildup of
condensation on the inside of the shell. Shingling or
sealants are common solutions to the problem of
exterior moisture, and ventilation can address


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:Done By
Abeer Al-Garni
Abrar Al-Amri
Maryam Hamzy