- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 21 Aug 2017
They are commonly used where a building interior needs to be free from intermediate walls or columns that might support a more conventional flat or pitched roof, such as; libraries, theatres, leisure centres, airport and railway terminals, and so on.
Shell roofs can be ‘flat’, but are typically curved, assuming a cylindrical, domed, paraboloid or ellipsoid shape. The curvature of shell structures benefits from the same structural efficiency as arches, which are pure compression forms with no tensile stresses. Because of their structural efficiency less material is generally needed compared to more traditional roofs. However, a restraining structure such as an edge beams is required to prevent the shell from ‘spreading’.
Shell roofs may be:
- Single shells such as the dome of the Pantheon in Rome.
- Multi-shell roofs such as Eero Saarinen’s JFK International Airport in New York.
- Reinforced with structural ribs, such as Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House.
- Lattice structures, such as Norman Foster’s Great Court at the British Museum in London.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- A-frame house.
- Barrel vault.
- Conoid shell.
- Domestic roofs.
- Folded plate construction.
- Hyperbolic paraboloid.
- Long span roof.
- Pendentive dome.
- Portal frame.
- Suspended ceiling.
- Sydney Opera House.
- Tensile structures.
- Tension cable and rod connectors.
- The history of fabric structures.
- Types of dome.
- Types of roof.
 External references
- ‘Building Construction Handbook’ (6th ed.), CHUDLEY, R., GREENO, R., Butterworth-Heinemann (2007)
Featured articles and news
ICE responds to a transport consultation advising the government to make decisions enabling more inclusive cities.
BRE and Loughborough University complete first phase refurbishment of demonstration home.
How the risk of collapse of fibrous plaster ceilings is being addressed in theatres.
If you’re a great writer and have practical experience of the construction industry, it could be you.
Frustrated by long documents or technical jargon? Put off by sign-up forms or costs? Take this 5 min survey to help improve construction knowledge.
These are attached to land that is the subject of a planning permission, and used to compensate for negative impacts.
ICE Scotland launch its new report for a long-term, holistic approach to infrastructure planning and funding.
Building surveys provide a detailed evaluation of a property's condition and involve an extensive inspection.
Government announces additional £2m funding for councils to tackle rogue landlords.
Maintenance is the process of ensuring that buildings retain a good appearance and operate at optimum efficiency.
Andrew Wyllie CBE, the CEO of Costain, becomes the 154th ICE President.