C. Douthe, O. Baverel, J.-F. Caron
In 1975, the gridshell of Mannheim’s Bundesgartenschau revealed the extraordinary aesthetic potential of a new type of lightweight structures with very interesting mechanical properties; it however did not become widespread. This article shows how composite materials can be an original and profitable solution for such constructions. In the first section, the authors recall the principal characteristics of gridshells. They explain then why glass fibres reinforced polymers provide a very attractive solution for this kind of application. The second section is dedicated to the numerical modelling of the structure. The basic principles of the dynamic relaxation method are presented. The third and principal section shows the results of the measures taken on the prototype built at the Navier Institute and compares them with the results of the numerical simulations. Finally the authors conclude on the potential of such structures for larger span constructions.