Space Frame Structure – Types, Designs, Advantages & Disadvantages

What Is Space Frame Structure?

Space frame is a strong, lightweight truss-like structure made of interconnecting struts arranged in a geometric design. It is a new technology in architecture and structural engineering. Space frames can span large areas while requiring few interior supports.

Due to its triangle’s intrinsic rigidity, a space frame is stiff like a truss; In space frame structures, flexing loads (bending moments) are transferred as tension and compression loads along the length of each strut.

Space Frame Structure

Components Of Space Frame Structure

The structural integrity of the space frame is formed by two components i.e members and joints. Members are axial pieces with circular or rectangular sections that resist tension and compression, and connecting connections contribute significantly to the design’s strength, stiffness, and safety.

The spherical nodes or square hollow portions in the center offer threaded drilled holes for the insertion of members in different directions of their axis and are often constructed of steel or aluminum which contributes to its lightweight structure.

 As a result, the member’s structural tube and welded steel cone are tightened into the spherical node or square hollow ensemble through screws and nuts at either end.

Types Of Space Frame Structure

There are numerous different types of space frames structures depending upon their curvature and arrangements of elements. They are discussed below.

1. Classification Based On Curvature:

a) Space Plane Covers:

The planar substructures that make up these Spatial Structures are made up of them. They behave like a plate with plane deflections. Shear forces are sustained by diagonals and directed through horizontal bars.

Space Plane Cover

b) Barrel Vaults:

These are vaults made of barrels that have a simple arch cross-section. Tetrahedral modules or pyramids are not always required as part of the support for this type of space frame.

Barrel Vault Space frame Structure
Barrel Vault Space Frame
Courtesy: Hindustan Alcox LTD.

c) Spherical Domes:

Tetrahedral modules or pyramids, as well as extra support from a skin, are commonly used to create spherical domes and other complex shapes.

Spherical Dome Space Frame structure
Spherical Dome Space Frame

2) Classification Based On Arrangements Of Its Elements

a) Single Layer Grid:

All Elements are put on the surface approximately.

Single Layer Grid

b) Double Layer Grid:

Commonly used space frames are double layer and flat. Elements in double layer space frame structures are arranged in two parallel layers separated by a specific distance.

Each layer forms a lattice of triangles, squares, or hexagons in which the projections of nodes in each layer may overlap or be shifted relative to one another.

Double Layer Grid space frame
Double Layer Grid

c) Triple Layer Grid:

The elements are arranged in three parallel lines, which are connected by diagonals. They are almost always flat. Practically used for a larger span structure.

Triple Layer Grid


  • Long-span platforms or overhead constructions that don’t require internal load-bearing support,
  • Commercial and industrial structures,
  • Conference halls and Exhibition center,
  • Stadiums with long span distance,
  • Shopping centers and malls,
  • Museum and fair houses,
  • Airports and canopy,
  • Airplane hangers,
  • Swimming pools,
  • Auditoriums,
  • Warehouses.

Advantages Of Space Frame Structure

1. Space frame structures are incredibly strong. They allow for the most precise load sharing.

2. These structures are lightweight, portable, and structurally effective.

3. It can withstand high loads while exhibiting minimal deflection.

4. Space frame trusses can be used for platforms or overhead constructions that span long distances without the requirement for internal load-bearing support.

5. It provides low transportation costs as compared to the conventional steel structure.

6. Space frame structure also has maximum seismic resistance.

7. The use of a space frame/space structure allows for unusual column placement, as well as integral cladding and glazing. As a result, these structures provide modularity.

8. Because of the prefabricated components, the installation is quick and relatively easy on-site.

9. They enable trouble-free erection as well as geometric balance. These improve the structure’s aesthetics while also providing flexibility.

10. These structures have an excellent duration to depth ratio.

11. It provides adjustable cambering facilities.

12. Structures with uneven plan shapes and sites are better suited to space frame structures.

13. Welding, bolting, or threading can be used to create space in a frame.

14. Lightweight, mass manufacturing, stiffness, and adaptability are all advantages of space frames as compared to other types of structures.

Disadvantages Of Space Frame Structure

1. When reinforced concrete is utilized, the construction of the space frame structure is limited to 40 ft.

2. Space frames consist of linear components that are solely sensitive to axial tension or compression and span in a three-dimensional plate structure.

3. Despite the fact that there are some connections that have relatively stiff joints, the impact of bending or torsional moment is negligible.

4. Prefabricated components in space frames have a tendency to leak into joints.

5. Transport costs could be higher than the cost of prefabricated volcanic sections.

6. Heavy-duty cranes, precise measurement, and handling are required for large prefabricated sections.


The flexibility and stiffness of space frame structures are rapidly increasing, and in the future days, the markets will be captivated. It is a good choice due to its aesthetics and design approach.

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