Flex-Shell Core Monolith Architecture

Flex-Shell is a durable building system for any kind of building or structure.  The designs can express many shapes and architectural preferences but always result in non-combustable building that is able to resist structural damage caused by strong earthquakes, flooding, tornado-force winds and vast expanses of time.

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High Strength Mix Design Supplies & Info

All the products and guides for a mix design plus a sub-surface reinforcing strategy for an ultra tough but thin shell.  We train, we help, we empower you to manage a small crew to execute a tornado-safe and earthquake-safe design on time and in budget.

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Fire-Safe, Tornado-Safe and Earthquake Safe Infrastructure for our Children and the Theirs

Flex-Shell Core Monolith Architecture is a durable building system for any kind of building or structure.  The designs can express many shapes and architectural preferences but always result in non-combustable building that is able to resist structural damage caused by strong earthquakes, flooding, tornado-force winds and vast expanses of time.

Flex-Shell is based in technologies for:

High-Strength Composite Shell Design - a mix design plus a sub-surface reinforcing strategy ultra tough but thin .
Fluid Curvilinear Form Framing - A framing technology, for both internal trusses and surface shell reinforcing that makes precision control possible for making the sturdy fluid curvilinear shapes that are necessary for Flex-Shell design.

The method is not yet mainstream or conventional, but it is fast, low-cost and accessible to everyone. The base materials and tools are readily available from hardware stores and US suppliers that ship world wide.

The technology is free, published in the public domain so no one can patent it or restrict access to it by claiming exclusive intellectual property ownership however, more detailed publications are available for purchase and workshops, and even advanced training for professional certification credentials, is available.

The system is high-tech, but it is an easy-to-follow recipe.  The publications, such as the Flex-Shell Construction Management Planner, the book - Flex Shell Architecture (Advancements in Ferrocement and Sustainable Design), and the Outdoor Job-site Poster Guide for Flex-Shell, makes it possible for anyone to obtain proper permits in your area and successfully manage a small building crew of semi-skilled laborers or professional contractors to execute a Flex-Shell design on schedule and in budget.

Flex-Shell Architecture features an ultra-durable high-strength composite for thin shell design.  Lab testing confirms a compressive strength between 8 and 17 thousand psi, depending upon the needed density for the specific application. Lab tests also show that this composite is impervious to chemical damage, such as ice and rust expansion.  It is also resistant to impact damage.  The freeze/thaw protection, chemical protection and impact protection are key properties that are the result of a special closed-spherical cell aeration. This aeration is a special foam that is added to this low-water, high strength mix.

These micro-spheres crush in to absorb sharp impacts that would otherwise cause fracturing or high-speed projectiles to bounce away to cause damage elsewhere, in less protected areas, like your groin.  These spherical micro-bubbles also block moisture that can lead to damage while providing ample room for expanding rust and ice. The tiny amount of moisture that can seep in between the ultra dense matrix particles or along micro cracks is not enough to lead to ice or rust damage because of the dense matrix and the 8% to 15% closed spherical cell aeration. This prevents expansion-caused fracturing in the matrix while arresting progressive rust.  These unique properties essentially eliminates the processes that degrade stone, brick and especially concrete, over time. These processes are:

1 Chemical Expansion Fracturing - Damage from ice & rust is circumvented because of the closed spherical air cells.
2 Moisture Intrusion - This is a water tight material, it doesn’t leek or need leak repairs over time.
3 Friction Erosion - This not a soft material. It is several times harder than concrete. The fiber reinforcing and micro-spheres work together to prevent crumbling.

The most important characteristic of this tough shell design is not its overall durability, it is the inseparable binding strength between the shell and the metal fabric reinforcing and supporting armature.  This is caused by the near absence of shrinkage during curing, which is unique to these ultra-high strength mix designs because they use very little water.  This binding strength, combined with the fiber reinforcing makes it impossible for pieces of the shell to delaminate or shell off of the building if it is damaged.  The fibers prevent even tiny pieces from falling.  This addresses an important safety concern because.  Delamination, pieces peeling or breaking off and falling, is a safety problem for virtually every other building system out there, a concern that doesn't exist with Flex-Shell Architecture.

Truss & Surface Framing.  An advanced armature framing method has been developed for this high-strength shell that allows for easy and precise control of how each building section is shaped. This armature framing system allows for:
1 A coherent blending of fluid shapes for maximum stability.
2 Proper base reinforcing for the composite shell that provides substantial layers, sturdy triangular-pattern reinforcing and rigid multidirectional tensile reinforcing along the plain of the shell.  This provides the shell with a reinforcing that disperses bending strains to a larger, instead of creasing, while limiting that shell flex to ranges that avoid damage and a flex range below repeat bending damage ranges.
3 A sturdy internal framing design that supports the building prior to the rigidifying shell.
4 A framing that ensures a broad, insulating roof cavity between the top and bottom surface shells, a cavity that is economically pumped full with light insulating cellular concrete.
5 A triangular truss framing pattern that is sturdy enough, by itself, to allow the broad insulating roof shell to flex and move as one solid piece, thus exhibiting a true structural sandwich or stress-skin effect.

Flex-Shell Architecture emphasis 3 key building phases:
1 Thin-Shell Retaining Walls for Terrain Integration  -This is an approach to Foundation Design that minimizes the disruption of the existing drainage conditions and biodiversity; the ecology that also helps stabilize the soil in the building area.
◦ The foundation columns are planted in the non-level natural terrain and then a thin-shell retaining wall is placed to raise the leveled building area to a height that is safe from flooding. This retaining wall is made from the same thin-shell reinforcing and ultra durable composite. The retaining wall will divert water away on the high side and allows the building area to be supported securely and leveled.
◦ Insulating and self leveling cellular concrete or available earth fill, or a combination of the two is used to fill the inside rather than pulling material out of the land which causes progressive degradation of the building area.
◦ This approach keeps the building and its foundations protected from emerging runoff issues.
◦ The building pad is also protected with other runoff gardens that are securely terraced both above and below the level building site. This protects the building area from long term changes in flood patterns while stabilizing and enhancing surface soil over time.
◦ These runoff gardens allow for a unique  balance of native fauna gardens, sheltered agriculture gardens, and leveled access, recreation and living spaces in the building environment.  This is unique to Flex-Shell Architecture.
◦ These walls, at only 3/4 of an inch thick yet are more able to withstand soil pressure, friction erosion and vast spans of time more effectively than 14 inches of Reinforced Concrete. This allows for a greatly reduced cost for properly designed, ultra-durable retaining walls and makes all of this possible.
◦ Problems caused by soil heave and soil-give problems that destroy and upend prestressed concrete foundations in clay rich soil in flood-prone areas, like Houston, are eliminated with this elevated retaining wall pad approach.  The pad is larger than the building and moves as one piece when a proper retaining wall is used.  This allows the pressures that cause sinking and rising to be easily balanced by digging down only a small distance, depending upon the displacement balance required to float the pad in a potentially soft environment. so movement does not occur.  These simple, low-cost but extremely durable retaining wall allows the buildings to be elevated out of the flood plain and protected from high-speed flows of water that would otherwise undercut a home.  For hurricane and flood prone areas, this is foundation approach is practical, low-cost and is a long term solution.
2 Core Monolith Flex-Shell Pavilion Phase: - Flex Shell Architecture focuses second mainly on establishing a Flex-Shell Core Monolith Pavilion. This is a simple bare-boned core of the building that is only a pavilion that consists of the funnel columns, the double-shell structural-sandwich main-roof combined with an extensive cantilevered awning.

It is a single sturdy monolithic shape that is built first, (fix sequence here) along with the thin slab that extends past the interior, all the way to the edge of the main retaining wall area; the building pad area, which should usually extends to just inside the drip edge of the Wavy, Curled-Edge Cantilevered Awning that is one of the few hallmarks of this building method. The funnel shaped columns flare upward to blend with the main insulating (structural sandwich) roof; the archway between the columns for the Entry walls, and the wavy curled edged cantilevered awning.  The smooth blending of these flexible shapes in a simple, clean Core Monolith of the Building is how flex-stability is achieved.
3 Entry Wall Finish Phase - The entry walls contain the doors and windows.  They also contain the plumbing and electrical.  Each of the support columns are insulated on the bottom with an Insul-Tank for improved thermal performance. (see website and shambhala village facebook doug lacy)  This provides ample room, just underneath the 3/4 inch high-strength slab, for electrical, plumbing  conduit jumps between entry walls so the Core Monolith Flex-Shell Pavilion can have a simple, singular focus during its construction.  The entry walls are not mechanically bonded to the Core Monolith, only a tight weather seal exists; the surface is joined with a flexible plaster joint.  This walls are nestled in around the curved profile of the columns and archway.  This prevents the walls from tipping inward or outward during a strong earthquake or tornado, while allowing some give to minimize damage to the entry walls that are well protected under the sturdy, single shell awning.  This also greatly simplifies permitting because the structural engineering, everything that is new, is covered under a low-cost permit that is based upon the clean and simple engineered drawings for the flex-shell pavilion.  The finish work can be done under a homeowner builder permit but professional contractors can also do the entry walls.  This two phase strategy greatly simplifies new-method-and-materials headache at the Codes Enforcement Office where they are glad to have an engineer take responsibility for the new stuff.


Window made with foam core technique. Sea Shell outline transferred to graph paper, outline in layers of foam cut out, sanded to shape and plastered.  Glass traced and thickness beveled in layer for seamless fit. Window for reflected and gradient light transmission from many angles.

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Construction Management Plan can help you stay on budget and on Schedule..

Our Waterproof Job Site Posters will help you manage a small crew, or do the work yourself, by making sure their is no confusion about the mix or organizing and executing framing and foundation.  All the construction is made very simple and clear with these clear visual guides ready for hanging at the building site.

The Book: Flex-Shell Architecture, Advancements in Ferrocement and Sustainable Design provides a compreshensive guide for the process and reveals the far reaching implication of a new sustainable approach that recognizes human's welcomed belonging to this world. "Let us put our heads together and see what kind of world we can make for our childred." - Sitting Bull