1958: Los Manantiales Restaurant – Xochimilco, Mexico
Innovation: Los Manantiales Restaurant
Location: Xoxhimilco, Mexico
Architect: Felix Candela
Structural Engineer: Felix Candela
Felix Candela has designed and built many thin shell concrete structures, but one of his most famous works is Los Manantiales Restaurant. Candela used his signature hyperbolic paraboloid geometry, which is a surface that is curved along two planes at once, to create a seamless concrete structure, which sometimes is as thin as only 1 inch. These concrete vaults are not made of precast concrete, but of concrete mixed and poured on the spot over a temporary wooden support structures with wire mesh interlacing the concrete for structural support. Candela utilized hyperbolic paraboloids frequently in his work because they create a geometrically complex yet symmetrical shape, and their formwork is so easy to build. By rotating pieces of wood around a central point and cyclically undulating the far end up and down, you can create this shape.
The structural engineering that Candela did for this building was very complex. The groins between each parabola conceal a steel-reinforced V-beam, which lends the shell of the structure to be called a groin vault. This V-beam is designed to address temperature effects within the concrete to keep cracks from forming and propagating, not to add additional structural support. `