Perspectives on Architecture: The Evolution of Shell Lace Structure

For six years, through both research and practice, Architects Tonkin Liu have been developing Shell Lace Structure, a pioneering tailored surface structural technique with Structural Engineers Arup. This is a FREE talk, please e-mail Hayley Russell to reserve a place. Booking is essential.  



Shell Lace Structure integrates the 500 million year-old structural principles of seashells and the ancient art of tailoring with today’s powerful digital tools. Mediating between the intuitive and the analytical, the iterative Shell Lace Structure design process develops in plasticine and paper, then is refined, resolved and realised with advanced digital modelling, structural analysis software and computerised fabrication tools. As a process it bridges the growing gap in architectural design between the analogue and the digital, beauty and efficiency, research and practice.

Anna Liu and Mike Tonkin will be discussing this project in a special 'Perspectives on Architecture' talk to coincide with the 'Tonkin Liu: The Evolution of Shell Lace Structure’ exhibition taking place at the RIBA from the 3 September to the 8 October. Professor Katharine Heron, from the University of Westminster will chair the talk.


Mike Tonkin is an Architect and Landscape Architect with over 20 years experience developing innovative and creative architecture, art, and landscape projects. He graduated in Architecture at the Royal Collage of Art, London. Mike has taught at numerous schools of architecture in England and the Far East, and he currently teaches a Masters design unit at the University of Westminster and is a teaching fellow at the University of Bath.

Anna Liu is an Architect with over 15 years experience delivering architecture, art, and landscape projects in China, Japan, the USA and the UK. She graduated in Architecture at Columbia University. Anna established Tonkin Liu with Mike Tonkin in 2002, since then the practice has delivered a diverse range of projects and been awarded seven RIBA awards. Together they have taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and the University of Westminster.

Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu received an RIBA Research Trust Award in 2013 for their research project on 'Shell Lace Structure'.