Since 2013

Elastic gridshells are often covered with stretched membranes. While this solution is economical, it offers poor performances in terms of acoustic or thermic insulation. This restricts the application of elastic gridshells to temporary buildings. This page shows two research projects proposing alternatives to membranes for the covering of elastic gridshells. They open new possibilities of application of this innovative structural system.

Description of the research

Membrane skin

Along the years, we explored different solutions for the covering of elastic gridshells. The first prototypes and significant constructions from the Navier laboratory were covered with stretched membranes. Tensile structures are subject to tight tolerances, and it was crucial to be able to predict the deformed geometry of gridshells. For that reason, an innovative form-finding algorithm taking into account eccentricities of grids was developed in Douthe’s PhD thesis and (Douthe 2007, 2010). The precision of the form-finding allowed to predict with enough reliability the geometry supporting the membrane, and thus to do the cutting-pattern before installation of the gridshell.

Concrete skin

Coming soon

Elastic gridshells covered by planar panels

The covering of complex shapes with planar panels or developable strips is an active topic of research. We propose an innovative shape-generation method that draws automatically elastic gridshells covered with planar quadrilaterals that still can be fitted onto a Tchebychev net (Douthe 2016). The method, called isoradial meshes, offers new perspective for the construction of roofs or facades with elastic gridshells. New opportunities for hybrid structural systems arise from this finding, as bracing with rigid plates can now be envisioned thanks to isoradial meshes.


  • O. Baverel
  • C. Douthe
  • L. du Peloux
  • P. Cuvilliers
  • R. Leroy
  • R. Mesnil


Laboratoire Navier,

Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées

Coming soon

Coming soon