At the recent Structural Membranes conference in Stuttgart, Ronnie Araya presented a paper on the current research at CAST. This summer Ronnie and his crew have produced a number of shell structures in a sort of composite formwork created by tensioned sheets of fabrics and padded frc. The methods are low tech and fairly simple; the structures are effective in using only a minimum of materials to obtain structural properties; and the images of the structures are just beautiful.
[image: formwork and cast shell structure in fibre reinforced conrete (frc) done at CAST, Winnipeg, Manitoba, photo by CAST]
I spent this past weekend in Barcelona and got the chance to visit Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí. A lot can be said about the structures produced from the mind set of the brilliant Catalan architect, however, I want to point out the immediate ressemblance with the work done at CAST. I know Gaudí is a huge source of inspiration af knowledge to CAST; references I've come across have been concentrating on the design work using hanging chain models and catenary curves.
The image below shows a beam or possibly just a shell covering the details of the top of the skylight - more on that later - When I saw this part of the structure I was stunned at the close ressemblance to the works Ronnie had presented only weeks before. The actual construction methods are pretty different as far as I'm informed. Gaudí used brick and plaster to a great extend in this house - I'm pretty sure that the simplicity of the CAST methods (using technical textiles and frc) deviced a century after Batlló would inspire the old master - both certainly inspire me.
[image: Beam across the atrium in Casa Batlló, Barcelona, photo: Anne-Mette Manelius]