Is that a turtle-shaped building?

Phu Quoc Island | Vietnam | Arup
In the heart of Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island, the Sea Shell Aquarium stands out as a structural engineering marvel, showcasing a unique turtle-shaped design and housing a diverse array of marine life, including 1,000 jellyfish, 200 penguins, and numerous rare fish species. Spanning 15,000 square meters across three floors, this complex structure integrates challenging design elements with advanced engineering techniques.

About the project

Designed by Arup, it was a challenging task to realize this unique form and complex geometry of the aquarium within a tight deadline. The scope of work covered structural, geotechnical, MEP, and fire engineering.

The conventional approach to creating a free-form outer surface is using beam and column construction supported by secondary non-structural frames. However, the size and positioning of the tanks made this approach challenging. Instead, a more complex long-span arrangement was used for the roof structure, which allowed for simultaneous construction of the outer façade and internal systems of the structure.

As many iterations and analyses were required, this project would not have been possible without innovative structural software. This included Rhino with Grasshopper, GSA, and IDEA StatiCa. With the BIM links facilitating the workflow, the flow of information was seamless and saved a lot of time and effort.

Engineering challenges

The initial structural scheme involved a roof with a series of radial warren trusses and two rings of circumferential transfer truss systems. The whole roof rested on top of the concrete columns, providing a defined and efficient load path.

After many iterations and adjustments (e.g., roof design, column layout, number of columns, boundary of roof, height of trusses, type of joint, bracing layout, etc.), the structure was finalized.

Solutions and results 

Before IDEA StatiCa, the team would have had to have designed the connection using Excel. IDEA StatiCa Connection enabled the team to model all bolted and welded connections quickly and safely. Advanced analyses including buckling, stiffness analysis, design resistance, and seismic were completed with minimal effort.

Thanks to IDEA StatiCa’s BIM link to GSA, the model modeled in GSA was exported to IDEA StatiCa, including internal forces, member sections and geometry data. This allowed the team to minimize errors and repetitive work to save time for other crucial tasks.

About Arup

ARUP is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London that provides engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of the built environment. With nearly 20,000 employees, it is among the largest and most prestigious of engineering consultancies in the UK.

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