international association for shell and spatial structures

Working Group 20: Teaching of Shell and Spatial Structures


The main mission of WG 20 is to create an exchange and discussion forum of teaching practices, tools and materials in the field of shell and spatial structures. We would like to encourage presentations, reports and publications. We believe, all teachers/lecturers, specially the less experienced ones, will benefit from such resources. Also, exchanging the teaching experience between schools of architecture and departments of engineering will help to bridge the gap between these two professions. Bridging this gap is one of the aims of the IASS and leads to a better quality of the built environment.

Our mission is to define HOW and WHAT we teach, WHEN in the curriculum and to WHOM (at which level).


Many IASS members are directly involved in research and teaching at university level. Also, a number of IASS members are designers in the field of spatial structures, who have an interest and duty of passing their knowledge to the next generation. Although other IASS working groups have inherent teaching aspects within their remit, this working group is more concentrated on the subject of teaching. It aims to facilitate the collection and exchange of teaching material, techniques, software etc. Also, it will aim at organising some activities for younger/new members, as exchange, discussion forums, design competitions, analytical and research reports, etc.

IASS publications, including the Journal, provide an outstanding resource of up to date information in the field. We hope to support, nurture and extend the possibilities for publishing and sharing of knowledge in the field.


The main objectives are to:
  1. Raise awareness about teaching of shell and spatial structures.
  2. Discuss and share information on key trends and future issues about the teaching of shell and spatial structures.
  3. Develop a web-based archive of methods related to teaching of shell and spatial structures on the IASS website.
  4. Attract new IASS members to join and contribute to the Working Group and its activities.
  5. Organise sessions at IASS symposia and colloquia related to the teaching of shell and spatial structures.
  6. Collaborate with other IASS Working Groups on matters related to teaching.
  7. Organise design competitions and technical reports at a university level.
  8. Contribute to the organisation and editing Special Issues of Journals related to the teaching of shell and spatial structure

WG Activities during 2015-16

  • Organised a technical session on “Teaching: Spatial Structures for Complex Contexts” at the IASS 2015 Symposium in Amsterdam including a keynote lecture by Prof Gerry Parke (UK).
  • Organised a Panel Discussion on “Teaching Shell and Spatial Structures” in collaboration with the Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research in Kerman, Iran, October 2015. The Panel included delegates from Argentina, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and UK.
  • Organised two technical sessions at the IASS 2016 Symposium in Tokyo including a keynote lecture by Prof Mamoru Kawaguchi (Japan).

WG Activities during 2016-17

  • Organised a technical session at the IASS 2017 Symposium in Hamburg.
  • Organized a technical session together with Structural Morphology at the IASS 2017 Symposium in Hamburg.

WG Activities during 2017-18

  • Organised a technical session at the IASS Symposium 2018 in Boston.
  • Organised a technical session on ‘Educational methods for dealing with complex environments’ at the IASS 2017 Symposium in Hamburg.
  • Organised a technical session on ‘Learning by making’ in collaboration with the Working Group on Structural Morphology (WG15) at the IASS 2017 Symposium in Hamburg.

    WG Activities during 2018-19

    • Organised a workshop on physical form findingat the Khayam University, Iran.
    • Supported the organisation of the two day special course on teaching structures at the Ecole des ponts ParisTech in June 2019 and delivered a welcome talk to discuss the activities of the WG 20.
    • Attended the Structure and Architecture Symposium in Lisbon and through discussions encouraged people to attend the IASS 2019 in Barcelona.
    • The ReciPlyDome structure was exhibited in several public locations in Denmark, with one of the iterations of the structure being able to withstand the weather for one year. It has evoked interest in the structural system and in spatial structures.
    • Organised two workshops on membrane structures for undergraduate students at the Emei Campus and postgraduate students at the Chengdu Campus of the Southwest Jiaotong University, China.

    WG Activities during  2019-20

    • Organised a number of workshops ranging from 6-10 hours, at different locations, focusing on the design and construction of membrane structures form finding techniques, the production of cutting patterns and making miniature study models, organised by Alireza Behnejad in collaboration with the local hosting universities, as listed :
    1. University of Surrey, Guildford, UK: (26 April 2019).
    1. Khayam University, Mashhad, Iran with local organisers: Mr Armin Mottaghi Rad and Mr Masoud Jamili:  (30 May 2019).
    1. Southwest Jiaotong University, Emei Campus, Emei, China, Local organiser: Dr Ming Zhang (8 and 9 July 2019).
    1. Southwest Jiaotong University, Jiuli Campus, Chengdu, China, Local organisers: Dr Ming Zhang and Dr Zhanhui Liu (10 and 11 July 2019).
    1. University of Surrey, UK, Invited lecturer: Prof Ruy Marcelo Pauletti from the University of Sau Paulo, Brazil, in collaboration with Prof Pauletti from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, (16 October 2019).
    1. Sadjad University of Technology, Mashhad, Iran, Local organisers: Mr Armin Mottaghi Rad and Mr Masoud Jamili. An assembly of a full scale membrane structure was completed (23 and 24 December 2019).
    1. Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran, Local organiser: Mr Shahram Zare (25 and 26 December 2019).
    •  Publishing the book Physical Modeling for Architecture and Building design, ICE Publishers London, by Olga Popovic Larsen. Through many known and less known building projects, the book explores the roles of physical models in design practice and identifies that models, although changed are still a valuable and broadly used tool today. One of the three case studies is dedicated to Mamoru Kawaguchi depicting his work with physical models aiding design, verification and construction of complex spatial structures.
    • Initiating a closer collaboration within the Nordic region between Aalto University in Finland, KTH in Sweden, NTNU in Norway and KADK in Denmark that during 2020/21 through a series of workshops will investigate the building potential of waste materials with focus on wood.   

    Planned activities

    • Building on and further developing the collaboration with the Structural Morphology WG
    • investigating the potential for collaborative activities with other IASS WG
    • Working on developing ways to share teaching methods, materials and best practice activities that enhance research led teaching.
    • Participating in the organisation of the IASS 2021 Symposium at the University of Surrey, UK in August 2021.


      All current members of the Working Group, listed below, are members of the IASS. The Working Group welcomes additional members who have an interest in Teaching of Shell and Spatial Structures; those interested should please contact the Chair of the Working Group, Olga POPOVIC LARSEN.  (Find her e-mail in the IASS Directory by logging in.)

      • Dr. Arch. Olga POPOVIC LARSEN (Chair) - Denmark
      • Arch. Eng. S. Alireza BEHNEJAD (Co-Chair) - UK

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