Shell Lace Structure by Tonkin Liu

Shell Lace Structure is a single-surface technique innovated by the award-winning, London-based architecture practice Tonkin Liu in collaboration with engineers from Arup. Inspired by the geometries and performance of mollusk shells, the technique was developed with the aid of advanced digital design, manufacturing processes and engineering analytics.

The fine-tuned curvilinear geometry the mollusk shell is incredibly efficient, achieving incredible strength and stiffness with minimal material thickness. Mimicking the geometry of the mollusk shell, Shell Lace Structure ‘celebrates lightness, strength and economy. It utilises the least amount of material to do the most work. It understands that all materials are precious.’

Shell Lace Structure technique has been used to develop numerous innovative designs including Rain Bow Gate and the Steel Orchard (Cadogan Cafe Competition). Examples of their work will be on display at Materia’s upcoming ‘Wonders of Water’ exhibition that will be present at the upcoming Architect@Work Kortrijk and Architect@Work Liège.

An in-depth look at their innovative work can be found in their recently published book ‘The Evolution of Shell Lace Structure,’ an ideal reference for anyone interested in principles of biomimicry, innovative manufacturing and excellence in architecture process, practice and design.