Sessions and topics

Take a look at the principal topics for the conference and the sessions and organisers.

Session timetables

Plenary programme

(381.6 KB .PDF)

Summary of technical sessions

(98.4 KB .PDF)

Programme of parallel sessions

(240.6 KB .PDF)


  • Adaptive systems
  • Advanced and bio-based materials
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Computational methods for analysis
  • Conceptual design
  • Configuration processing
  • Damage, fracture and fatigue
  • Deployable and origami systems
  • Detailing and construction
  • Environmental compatibility
  • Glass structures
  • Gridshells and bending-active structures
  • Historical structures
  • Inflatable structures
  • Lattice structures
  • Maintenance techniques
  • Metal spatial structures
  • Optimisation
  • Plasticity in additive manufactured materials
  • Shell structures
  • Teaching and education
  • Temporary structures
  • Tensegrity systems
  • Tension and membranes structures
  • Testing procedures
  • Timber and bio-based structures

Sessions and organisers

Thin shell structures define architectural forms and resist loading efficiently at the same time. Yet the labour and materials traditionally involved in their fabrication and installation, need to be of high quality and is therefore costly.

Engineers, architects and other building professionals are of the opinion that these costs are the main obstacle for their adoption in the construction industry today. Therefore we present in this session techniques and approaches that tackle the fabrication and construction of (grid)shells in the 21st century to create knowledge on how to design and build them efficiently and economically.

The reinforced concrete shell structures that were developed in the 20th century bear witness to the social movements and political agendas as well as the technological developments that emerged before, during and after the First and Second World Wars. Some of these structures also constitute material memory and contribute to the collective identity of diverse communities around the world.  

As members of the Candela, Isler and Mutter (CIMIS) International Research Group, we are aware and concerned about the current state and future of important historic concrete shells around the world.  Also, the preservation of these structures which usually were designed and constructed to cover large spans with minimum use of material can support some of the challenges currently posed by climate change.

Preservation of some of these shells has been secured by their continuous use and, in some cases, this has required a change in function. Furthermore, different degrees and types of interventions have been done to some of these structures and which have not always been optimum, thus creating damages to the structures and compromising their integrity and lifespan. 

Furthermore, there are other concrete shells that are not anymore in use and have become derelict and at risk of loss without a prompt and well-informed intervention. 

This ‘organised session’ aims to present the current state of significant historic concrete shells around the world as well as the challenges that communities, stakeholders and experts have overcome to repair, reuse, and preserve them.  

The advent of tension systems opened new avenues for architectural and structural innovation. Early inventions included air-supported, cable-net, and membrane structures. The pioneers of tension structures were bold to experiment and search for the most efficient lightweight forms. Numerous advancements have happened since in the areas of form-finding, analysis, design, and detailing. 

This session covers a range of topics including mathematics, design, sustainability, and case-studies of a variety of tension systems. The structures discussed include cable-nets, cable-stayed columns, and tensioned membrane structures built in the United Kingdom and other European countries.  

Membranes buildings with good light transmittance and/or high strength-to-weight ratio have attracted considerable attention in recent decades. Generally, membrane buildings (with fabrics and polymers), are typical spatial structures and good candidates to utilize solar energy and interact with external environments, resulting in complex coupling mechanisms (solar energy, dynamic fluid, nonlinear structural behaviour and indoor environment).

The understanding of these issues to obtain suitable multifunctional building performance needs new ideas, novel methods and design. To achieve these aims, creative ideas for membrane structures are indispensable for corresponding researchers and engineers.

WG 8 has published “Guide to Buckling Load Evaluation of Metal Reticulated Roof Structures”. This session is composed of the related updated researches and applications regarding single-layered metal grid shell structures, connections and their buckling behaviour including:

  1. How to create new innovative shapes and connections (free form, industrial production, and others)
  2. How to evaluate buckling strength, formulation of buckling strength, and application of buckling theory.

WG 8 has published “Guide to Earthquake Response Evaluation of Metal Roof Spatial Structures”, and this session introduces related benchmark papers regarding dynamic behaviours and seismic damages of metal spatial structures including:

  1. How to evaluate earthquake resistance, formulation of resistance capacity, and application of theory
  2. How to evaluate the reliability of buckling, earthquake resistance
  3. How to refrain from disasters
  4. Reflecting past experiences for future.

Bio-based materials have been used for manifold purposes throughout history, even in periods when stone, concrete and steel have dominated in construction. During recent years they have gained renewed interest in the construction sector, partly due to their renewability and low climate impact and partly due to the development of design and production tools facilitating their adaptation and use for different functions.

The development of tools and processes enhances their offer of characteristic bio-based form and shape potential, which inspires structural and architectural design. This session has its focus on this design and resource efficiency potential and how it can inspire the next generation of designers to innovate and build a sustainable future.

The programming language Formian is based on formex algebra, invented by Professor Hoshyar Nooshin and developed by him and his team in the Space Structures Research Centre, at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Surrey.

It is a universal tool enabling fluent changes of the geometry of the designed space structure and which, moreover, could become a common link between different stages of the design process. The application of Formian accelerates cooperation between architects and engineers during the design processes of various types of space structures.

This organised session is intended to be a platform for exchange experiences of education aspects and practical applications of Formian.

Description to come.

Parametric design has been evolving over the past few years from a niche activity of a few computational enthusiasts to mainstream practice for any size of firm. This study group focuses on the next steps in this domain; the next generations of parametric design.

In this edition of these sessions the focus will be on the structural subdomain of parametric design, considering approaches for early stage structural design, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data visualisation and other related topics and technologies.

Description to come.

Description to come.

‘Tactile’ can be understood on several levels – on one level it is about developing tactile (quality) of structures, on the other it is about “tactile” (tactics of) teaching; also about many other aspects in-between the two.

This invited session invites papers about teaching of spatial structures and aspects of teaching that cover the process, the end result as well as teaching and learning strategies.

Teaching methods are under constant review in the light of more demands of:

  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Critical thinking
  • Crosspollination
  • Carbon footprint
  • Life cycle assessments
  • Flexibility in the future careers
  • Creativity, etc.

Students in both the fields of architecture and engineering know that they will collaborate intensively once being graduated. The time of their studies offers a unique chance to encourage reflection of this future collaboration and their common grounds and goals.

This session wants to open up the debate on common teaching methods and possibilities. This will be done through the presentation of teaching methods, projects and approaches that inspire, encourage and train students to integrate knowledge in design.

Based on (realised) student projects, the presentations will discuss the application of interactive computational design tools, collaboration schemes and/or fabrication methods that allowed students to design and develop efficient and innovative architectural prototypes, that are a showcase of the synergy between structural design and architectural creativity, and of the combination of inventiveness with originality.

The notion of symmetry exists in almost all fields of human knowledge. In ancient Greece, symmetry manifested itself in art and science. In modern times, concepts of symmetry have played an important role in the understanding of natural phenomena, leading to fundamental discoveries in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry etc.

Spatial structures belong to the group of modern and very efficient structural systems applied in architecture and civil engineering. They are mostly very regular structures, but due to their 3-dimensional configuration, the analysis and design of spatial structures can be complex and very difficult. Symmetry can be exploited not only to simplify the understanding of the physical behaviour, but also as a powerful tool for the creation, analysis, design and assembly of spatial structures.

This session on “symmetry and spatial structures” is intended to be a platform for the exchange of ideas and experience on symmetry between experts involved in the analysis, design and construction of spatial structures. The following types of contributions are welcome:

  1. Papers presenting new mathematical procedures and algorithms for the identification of symmetry, and for taking into account symmetry and regularity in spatial configurations
  2. Original contributions on novel methods of structural analysis that exploit symmetry and regularity in spatial structures in order to simplify the analysis
  3. Studies of the influence of symmetry on structural behaviour (statics, kinematics, stability, buckling and vibration), or seeking a better understanding of phenomena related to symmetry
  4. Contributions presenting the creative use of symmetry as a tool for the design and assembly of new types of spatial structures, or for the adaptation of existing structures
  5. Studies bringing in diverse experiences on symmetry from other scientific disciplines, and indicating the relevance of these to the design of spatial structures.

Generally, either developing novel spatial and shell structures, or analysing on a known engineering structure primarily requires a form-finding (also known as force-finding) analysis, which is a key to searching for nondegenerate self-equilibrated configurations among various input parameters.

However, it is frequently difficult to analytically compute the stress state and structural configuration of a given geometry, because the final configuration of a novel spatial or shell structure is, in general, strictly dependent on the stress states. Thus, form-finding/force-finding of spatial structures has attracted considerable attention in various fields. 

Advancement of computer software and computational methods allows us to improve form-finding analysis. A few advanced computational methods and heuristic approaches based on optimisation algorithms have been presented to solve the involved form-finding problems.

This session will focus on the use of novel and robust computational form-finding methods in the design and development of 2D and 3D spatial and space structures (include, not limited to tensegrity, origami/krigami structures, membranes, grids, cable nets, and cable-strut tension structures).