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Spatial Structures - An Innovative Structural Solution

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Grid roof of the National Maritime Museum - Amsterdam, Holland

Various architecturally brilliant structures have been constructed under the concept of spatial structures. Examples of these are football stadiums, such as Wembley Stadium in London, and the Yas Island of Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, also known as the largest free-form membrane system in the world.

Wembley Stadium - London UK
Yas Island - Abu Dhabi UAE

What Are Spatial Structures?

Spatial structures are formally defined as a structural system within three dimensions such that the configuration, external loads, internal loads, and displacements of the structure all extend beyond a single plane. In practice however, the term 'spatial structure' can be simplified to refer to a number of structural forms including:

  • Grids

  • Barrel vaults

  • Domes

  • Towers

  • Cable nets

  • Membrane systems

  • Foldable assemblies

  • Tensegrity forms

The most common type of spatial structure is a dome. As a self supported structure, no additional columns or frames are required to maintain the structure.

Amazon Spheres - Seattle USA

What are the Three Main Types of Spatial Structures?

  1. Lattice spatial structures - these consist of discrete, normally elongated elements (such as the Wembley Stadium roof structure)

  2. Continuous space structure - consists of components such as slabs, shells and membranes (such as the Yas Island outer structure)

  3. Biform space structure - a combination of discrete and continuous elements

Benefits of Spatial Structures?

Along with architectural innovation, these types of structures provide other benefits such as the minimal usage of material in relation to the volume of space enclosed by the structure, and the ability to act as a bearing structure and a space enclosure at the same time. Spatial structures are tri-dimensional surfaces that resist loads through their geometry and gain structural stability from their geometric shape.


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