Space Frame | Space Frame Structures | Space Frame Architecture | Types of Space Frame Structure |Space Frame System

Space Frame | Space Frame Structures | Space Frame Architecture | Types of Space Frame Structure |Space Frame System

What Is Space Frame?

A Space Frame Structure can be defined as a stiff, lightweight, truss-like structure. It is constructed with interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frames can be used efficiently to cover vast areas with minimal internal support.

The strength of a space frame structure is due to the inherent stiffness of the triangle and flexing loads that are transmitted along the length of each strut in the form of tension and compression loads.


Introduction of Space Frame Structure

Space Frame Structure
Space Frame Structure

A space frame is a truss-like, trivial stuff structure built from interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. They are a common feature in modern building construction. The main advantage of Space Frames over PEB is that it uses a multi-span, and is often used to meet a longer span with few supports.

They are strong due to the characteristic rigidity of the triangular frame; Flexing loads (bending moments) are transmitted along the length of each strut in the form of tension and compression loads. Space Frames are built from correlated members and nodes. The members and nodes are connected by bolts.

The size of the members, nodes, and high tensile bolts are determined by the structural design. Space frame building is a new alternative to pre-engineered building systems. SFBS are extremely rigid and stable compared to any other existing structural systems. It is widely used in all international air terminals.

Appropriate research and development were done to make this system applicable for industrial/institutional applications. Its spectacular beauty and robust appearance make it a good choice for architects and structural engineers to use SFBS in their projects.

The important part of architecture is the designing process in which a blueprint of the structure is made, as it lays the foundation of great structures. Creating an architectural structure requires highly creative and innovative skills to produce the final design. Steel structure requires the right analysis, materials, construction technologies, and building systems to truly scale new heights.

Steel structures are concerned with the design, description, construction, maintenance, and application of science to improve steel materials. It helps to come out with a range of extraordinary architectural structures.

Read More: Difference Between Load Bearing Structure and Frame Structure


Components of Space Frame System

Space Frame System
Space Frame System
  • Axial members known as tubes form the key components of this type of structure.
  • These tubes can have circular hollow sections or rectangular hollow sections which can be connected to each other using connectors.
  • There are four main types of connectors, namely tubal node connectors, nodus connectors, triode tic connectors, and hemispherical dome connectors.
  • The type of connecter used in this type of structure depends on the type of tubes as well as the total design and robustness requirements of the structure.
  • All of the above features combine to make space frame structures extremely lightweight, elegant, and economical. They offer greater flexibility in terms of integrating various lifestyle features within the structure in a highly intuitive, smart, and hassle-free manner.

Advantages of Space Frame Structure

Space Frame Structure has following advantages,

  • Space frame structures are easy for transportation, handle, and stack.
  • It offers adjustable cambering features.
  • Very easy to install on-site due to fast installation or prefabricated components.
  • It does not require purlins.
  • It is more suitable for structures that have irregular plan shapes and sites.
  • Also, suitable for a structure that has a large span.
  • It provides a column-free explicit word.
  • It provides a big spawn at low altitudes.
  • It provides minimum deflection.
  • The space frame structure also has maximum seismicity.
  • It has an excellent span-to-depth ratio.
  • It provides low transportation costs.
  • It is lightweight and structurally effective.
  • Concentrated loads are distributed evenly throughout the structure.
  • It has very good acoustic properties.

Disadvantages of Space Frame Structure

Some Disadvantages of Space Frame Structure are as follows,

  • When reinforced concrete has used the construction of a space frame structure is limited to 40 feet.
  • Space frames that span a three-dimensional plate structure are based on the rigidity of the triangle and are composed of linear elements that are usually only subjected to axial tension or compression.
  • Even though there are some connections that are comparatively rigid joints due to bending or torsion effects that is insignificant.

Applications of Space Frame Structure

Following are some listed applicaions of space Frame Structure,

  • Space frames are a common feature in current construction often found in large commercial and industrial buildings with modern roofs with minimal support.
  • They are commonly used for the construction of aircraft hangars, factories, cinema balls, exhibition halls, airports, and umbrellas.

Design Analysis of a Space Frame Structure

Space frames are characteristically designed using a stiffness matrix. The form of space frame is a flat slab of interlocking square pyramids and tetrahedra created from aluminum or tubular steel struts. In many ways, it looks like the horizontal jib of a tower crane that is repeated several times to widen it.

A strong form is composed of interlocking tetrahedra with unit lengths of all struts. More technically it is known as an isotropic vector matrix or an octave truss in a single unit width. More complex variations alter the length of the struts to curve the overall structure or may incorporate other geometric shapes.

Space frames are a common feature in current building construction; They are often found in large roofs in modernist commercial and industrial buildings.

Read More: What Is Load Bearing Structure | Difference Between Load Bearing vs Framed Structure


Limitations of Space Frame Structure

Space Frame Structure has following limitations,

  • Space frame trusses can be used for platforms or overhead structures that span large distances without the need for internal load-bearing supports.
  • Space frames are beneficial by them as associated with other common structures; Lightweight, mass production, rigidity, and versatility.
  • Space frames are classified into three types conferring to the number of grid layers; Single, double, or triple layer.
  • Space can be made by frame connection; welding, bolting or threading
  • Space frame construction uses three main methods of construction; Scaffolding Method, Block Assembly Method, Lift-up Method

Types of Space Frame Structure

There are various types of space frames classified into different types

According to Curvature

  • Flat Covers
  • Barrel Vaults
  • Spherical Domes

According to Numbers of Grid Layers

  • Single Layer
  • Double Layer
  • Triple Layer

Flat Covers

Flat Covers Space Frame Strcuture
Flat Cover
  • Spatial Structures Made of Planar Substructures
  • The planes are transmitted through the horizontal bars and the shear forces are supported by the diagonals.

Barrel Vaults

  • It has a cross section of simple arc
Barrel Vaults Space Frame Structure
Barrel Vaults

Spherical Domes

Spherical Domes Space Frame Structure
Spherical Domes
  • Spherical domes are made of an intricate network of steel sections
  • Typically, the use of tetrahedral modules or pyramids and additional supports are required from the skin
  • All elements are in one single layer

Single layer

  • All elements are in one single layer
Single layer Space Frame Structure
Single Layer

Double Layer

Double Layer Space Frame Structure
Double Layer
  • They usually use space frames
  • The elements are arranged in two parallel layers at a fixed distance from each other.
  • Diagonal bars linking nodes of both layers in different directions

Triple Layer

Triple Layer Space Frame Structure
Triple Layer
  • Placed in three parallel lines connected by diagonals.
  • They are mostly used for large spans

Read More: What is Lean to Roof? How to Build Lean-to Roof Structure


Space Frame Structure Examples

Examples of space frame structure are as follows,

  • Stansted Airport
  • Bank of China Tower and Louvre Pyramid
  • Rogers Centre
  • McCormick Place East in Chicago
  • Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil
  • Eden Project in Cornwall, England
  • Globen, Sweden
  • Biosphere 2 by John P. Allen, Phil Hawes
  • Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York
  • Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain
  • Sochi International Airport in Sochi, Russia
  • Entrance to Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
  • Harbin Opera House in China
  • Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan

FAQs: Space Frame Structures

Space Frame

A Space Frame Structural system can be defined as a system of stiff, lightweight, truss-like structures, constructed with interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frames can be used efficiently to cover vast areas with minimal internal support.

What is steel space frame structure?

Steel Space Frames Structures are those structures that are composed of steel metal in order to make the structure weight-efficient for usage. Steel provides some properties when used in a space frame system.

What are the components of space frame?

1. Axial members, known as tubes form the key components of this type of structure connected by connectors.
2. Types of connectors are tubal node connectors, nodus connectors, triode tic connectors, and hemispherical dome connectors.
3.These tubes can have circular hollow sections or rectangular hollow sections.

What is an example of a frame structure?

Some Examples of Space Frame Structure are listed below,
Stansted Airport
Bank of China Tower and Louvre Pyramid
Rogers Centre
McCormick Place East in Chicago
Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil
Eden Project in Cornwall, England
Globen, Sweden
Biosphere 2 by John P. Allen, Phil Hawes
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York

Space Frame System

In architectural design, a space frame or space frame system is a truss-like, lightweight rigid structure manufactured from interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frame structures can be utilized for large areas with few interior supports.

Space Frame Architecture

In structural design, space framing (3D truss) is a lightweight, rigid, truss-like structure manufactured from interconnected struts in a geometric pattern. Space frame structure architecture can be used for larger spaces with few internal supports.

Space Framing System

In architectural design, a space framing or space frame system is a truss-like, lightweight, rigid structure manufactured from interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frame structures can be utilized for large areas with few interior supports.


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