The HyPar Thin Shell Concrete Roof is a roofing system developed by George Nez and Albert Knott of [TSC Global] who trained groups in several developing countries in how to construct them. One of the groups they trained is Technology for Tomorrow (T4T) who is offering the roofs as a building product in Uganda.
The roofs are 1 cm thick and made from a mixture of cement, sand, water and acrylic latex on a fibreglass mesh or cloth and light wire mesh base. The shell layer is supported on a four-sided pyramid framework of timber that creates a hyperbolic parabola shape.
Made on site with materials including latex, mesh, and wood members ordered from elsewhere and brought to site.
Intellectural Property Type
User Provision Model
Users can build the Hypar roof themselves based on published instructions (see Product Schematics section) or else hire a company that has been trained such as T4T or EMI.
Distributions to Date Status
Unit dimensions (cm)
Fire Resistance (hr)
Thermal Insulation Capacity
Compressive Strength (MPa)
Varies based on building/roof design, mix design, and quality of construction.
Suitable for any climate but additional measures would need to be taken to insulate for colder climates
The basic form is made as follows but can be adjusted to suit any building design. These specifications were taken from the book Latex Concrete Habitat by Dr. Albert Knott and Dr. George Nez. Other researchers and builders propose slight differences to the framing details and mix design, but the general process is the same. The Edge Members: four poles with two slightly longer than the other two, and fastened so that the two longer poles meet at one corner. That corner can be lifted and propped on a post. The Screen Surface: Posts are marked in 1' (30cm) segments and then 1' wide strips of fiberglass fly-screen are wrapped from one side of the frame to the other in both directions, layering them on so that they overlap by 6" and stapling down to the frame. Coating and Surface: The first coat is a latex slurry mixture of latex liquid and portland cement and water and brushed on to the surface using long-handled brushes. The next layer is a latex mortar mixture made of latex slurry and sand and applied until the surface is about 1cm thick. Other Considerations: The surface can be used for roofs, arched shelters, and walls, and additional strength provided by adding additional layers of fabric and mortar. The surface can also be perforated for smokestacks and skylights. Only hand tools are required to build the structure and electricity is not essential. It is possible to construct the roof first before the walls and the roof structure is so light that it can be lifted onto the walls afterward or can have separate columns supporting it.
Technical support may be provided by the trained builder of the system.
The system is not modular and therefore the whole roof would have to be replaced. The materials used are available in most countries that have a construction industry and can therefore be easily obtained for any additional construction.
The complete lifecycle is unknown, but there are HyPar structures that have been standing for over 20 years. Tests have shown that quality assurance is important in the construction of HyPar roofs because deterioration can happen if details or the mix is done poorly.
Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters
Designer specified performance targets include the system being light weight, strong, durable, portable, low cost, and minimum training required.
Vetted Performance Status
Testing of the system is being performed separately and does not relate to the projects that have or are currently being completed by implementers of the system. Research has been performed for the material science of the HyPar shell to determine the optimal mix design and structural performance during an earthquake.
The roof is lightweight and would therefore not be fatal to occupants if damaged by an earthquake. Workers would be subject to general dangers of a construction site including working with sharp tools. Construction does not require the use of large machinery.
Complementary Technical Systems
T4T is pairing the roof system with ISSB walls. EMI paired the roof system with earthen bag construction.
Academic Research and References
Carlton, W. S., 2013, Material Behaviour of Latex-Modified Concrete in Thin Hyperbolic Paraboloid Shells, A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty in partial fulgent of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science Civil Engineering.
Balding, D., 2013, The Experimental Seismic Testing of Hypar Shells, Fourth Year Undergraduate Project, St. Catharines College.
Knott, A. & Nez, G., 2005, Latex Concrete Habitat, Trafford Publishing.
Compliance with regulations