A research and development project has been conducted aiming to design and produce ultra-thin concrete shells. In this paper, the first part of the project is described, consisting of an innovative method for shape generation and the consequent production of reduced-scale models of the selected geometries. First, the shape generation is explained, consisting of a geometrically nonlinear analysis based on the Finite Element Method (FEM) to define the antifunicular of the shell’s deadweight. Next, the scale model production is described, consisting of 3D printing, specifically developed to evaluate the aesthetics and visual impact, as well as to study the aerodynamic behaviour of the concrete shells in a wind tunnel. The goals and constraints of the method are identified and a step-by-step guidelines presented, aiming to be used as a reference in future studies. The printed geometry is validated by high-resolution assessment achieved by photogrammetry. The results are compared with the geometry computed through geometric nonlinear finite-element-based analysis, and no significant differences are recorded. The method is revealed to be an important tool for automatic shape generation and building scale models of shells. The latter enables the performing of wind tunnel tests to obtain pressure coefficients, essential for structural analysis of this type of structures.
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