Bringing the student concept to reality: The “Social Shell” Pavilion

3 October 2019

Arup and Leonard Design Architects, teamed up with Scale Rule to inspire the next generation of engineers, architects and designers across Nottinghamshire.

Scale Rule is a social enterprise which aims to benefit young people interested in the built environment, but also promotes diversity and better representation within the industry. This scheme has engaged local students in year 9 and 10 and has provided them with the opportunity to be directly involved in a real-life construction project from start to finish.

Arup and Leonard Design Architects arranged and ran a weekend workshop on 14-15th July 2018 at the Nottingham Trent University (NTU) city campus. The weekend included a mix of short talks about architecture and engineering and a number of interactive exercises including design, drawing, and model making, with an emphasis on teamwork.

Take a look at the journey Arup took, alongside Leonard Design, in developing The Social Shell which was on show in Old Market Square in Nottingham over the summer of 2019.

In small teams they designed a pavilion to meet a real brief for a structure in the heart of Nottingham, with a given set of materials; creating concept sketches and models, detailed drawings and explaining how they would build it. At the end of the weekend the teams presented their designs to a judging panel and the ”The Social Shell” was selected as the winning scheme.

Following the workshops, Arup and Leonard Design Architects developed the winning Pavilion concept; “The Social Shell” into a fully buildable design. The architectural and structural design has been developed together and parametrically modelled using software such as Rhino and Grasshopper to define the architectural form and structural design based on the original student’s concept.

This has been a fantastic project to engage with local school children, help them to be creative, show them what their ideas can achieve and hopefully we’ve really inspired them. ” Steve Fernandez Associate Director. Arup

The completed 'Social shell' The completed 'Social shell'

The Social Shell was cut entirely from 61 sheets of plywood using CNC routers. The design was refined to minimise the work on site, maximise material efficiency and minimise any requirements for metal bracketry, instead preferring slotted bearing or bolted connections.

Arup Community Engagement funded all the materials for the pavilion and volunteers from Arup and Leonard Design Architects constructed the pavilion in only one day in Old Market Square in the heart of Nottingham City Centre.

All the components were successfully fitted together with minimal cutting and drilling on site. The pavilion formed part of “The Nottingham Beach” that was open to the public throughout the summer.

The Social Shell will now feature at Timber-Expo at the NEC between the 8th and 11th October as part of UK Construction Week 2019.