Atrium roof structure

The atrium roof’s structural system is designed to balance the aesthetic value of the architecture – and its structural strength for safety – with its theoretical upfront carbon content disclosed as part of the design process.

One of the defining visual elements of the building is the unique atrium structure with its glass roof. It is a lightweight gridshell roof structure that stands out in terms of local engineering creativity.

During the design development, once the size of the gridshell roof was established, several grids were analysed before the team decided on the best option. The exposed gridshell structure and the use of various techniques to support the glazing on the large steel grid can be seen as a work of art.

One of the analyses done on the large triangular structural grid was to calculate the upfront embodied carbon of the structure to determine its carbon footprint to further inform future projects – something which had never been done before on any project in Africa.

The atrium roof structure allowed the HPI d-school Building to be named the winner of the 2023 South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) Technical Excellence Project of the Year Commendation Award.


  • INN-01 – Innovative Strategies and Technologies

The aim of this credit is to encourage and recognise pioneering initiatives in sustainable design, process or advocacy.