GS&E journal > Conceptual design and FEM structural response of a suspended glass sphere made of reinforced curved polygonal panels


  • Maurizio Froli Department of Energy, Systems, Territory and Construction Engineering University of Pisa
  • Francesco Laccone Institute of Information Science and Technologies “Alessandro Faedo” (ISTI) Italian National Research Council (CNR)


glass shell, structural glass, curved glass, heat bent, steel reinforcement, truncated icosahedron, finite element model


The paper introduces a novel concept for structural glass shells that is based on the mechanical coupling of double curved heat-bent glass panels and a wire frame mesh, which constitutes a grid of unbonded edge-reinforcement. Additionally, this grid has the purpose of providing redundancy. The panels have load-bearing function, they are clamped at the vertices and dry-assembled. The main novelty lies in the use of polygonal curved panels with a nodal force transfer mechanism. This concept has been validated on an illustrative design case of a 6 m-diameter suspended glass sphere, in which regular pentagonal and hexagonal spherical panels are employed. The good strength and stiffness achieved for this structure is demonstrated by means of local and global FE models. Another fundamental feature of the concept is that the reinforcement grid provides residual strength in the extreme scenarios in which all panels are completely failed. A quantitative measure of redundancy is obtained by comparing this scenario with the ULS.

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