Concrete Shell Buildings

What is Shell Construction?

A concrete shell (also known as a “thin shell” concrete structure) is composed of a thin shell of concrete made to be self-supporting. To put it simply, the shell is the basic outer structure of a building. The interior is left unfinished as a blank canvas to be built out to the occupants’ needs. This type of construction approach is typically applied to large office buildings developed for the purpose of renting out the individual spaces within. This approach saves time, money and materials, and helps to meet the needs of individual tenants who require specific layouts and functionality.


The shell of a building, which separates the interior space of the structure from its exterior and outer spaces, typically consists of several features, which may vary based on the project specifications:


  • Framing
  • Foundation
  • Building cladding
  • Building envelope (external walls, roofs, glazing, insulation)


Depending on the specific needs of the project, shell materials can include metal, concrete, stone, and wood. Shell construction provides design flexibility, customization options, cost-effectiveness and a solution that works for both the building owner and the tenants.


Taking into consideration that an ideal space varies depending on who is defining it, there is no way a building owner can predict what future occupants will need as far as unit configuration. This is when shell construction makes the most sense. Other key benefits of shell construction include the following:



Cost Savings

  • The speed of the process is considerably faster, which leads to cost savings.

  • The blank space provides no need for tenants to strip out fittings; therefore, waste is greatly reduced.
  • The typical concrete core facilitates the building’s heat storage, often resulting in more energy-efficient construction.


  • Since the shell has a longer lead time, the interior fittings can be decided upon during construction.

  • The tenants get to start with a blank canvas to create an interior layout that does not affect the overall design of the building.
  • The interior fit-outs can typically be changed to suit new & subsequent tenants without a significant burden regarding financial costs, impact on the overall building construction or structural safety concerns.



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