Winner 2021

Award for
Structural Artistry (building structures)

Project Description

Three long-span timber gridshells which function as greenhouses, ranging from 11m to 29m in height and 43m to 88m in diameter. The buckling performance of these slender shells was critical. Significant full-scale structural testing was conducted to prove the stiffness and capacity of unique hidden connections.

Judge’s comments

The Taiyuan Botanical Garden complex features three paraboloid domes with spans of up to 88m constructed through a complex structural system of timber beams, overlapped in two directions, and stainless-steel cables. It is thought to be the largest span structure of its kind in world.  

The complex geometry inherent in this architectural form made parametric design and structural optimisation of paramount importance. The careful planning of the design, fabrication, transportation, and construction sequence resulted in a problem free erection on site with very little site alteration required.

The concept is based on land restoration and the choice of materials creates a harmony between nature, architecture and structure. The project pushes the boundaries of structural engineering, materiality, and construction technique. 

Project overview

Structural Designer

  • Arcplus Institute of Shanghai Architectural Design & Research (Co.,Ltd) / StructureCraft

Client Name

  • Taiyuan Botanical Garden


  • Taiyuan, China


  • Delugan Meissl Associated Architects & Valentien+Valentien Landschaftsarchitekten und Stadplaner SRL

Principal Contractor

  • Greenland Construction Group (Co., Ltd.) & Shanghai SKF Architecture Technology Co., Ltd.

Key Contractors

  • StructureCraft – Structural Engineer

    Arcplus Institute of Shanghai Architectural Design & Research (Co.,Ltd) – Structural Engineer/Local Design Institute 

    Bollinger + Grohmann – Structure Concept Design Consultant 

    Mule Studio – Parametric Design Consultant 

    Shanghai Beelitech Co. Ltd – Glass Curtain Wall Construction 

    StructureCraft, Tongji University – Glulam Joints, Components & Material Characteristics Experiments 

    Taiyuan University of Technology – Glulam Structural Health Monitoring 

Year Submitted

  • 2021