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Engineering Origins: Frei Otto

Oct 29 2007 18:04
Nick Simpson
Frei Otto was a pioneer of light weight structures, here is a little more about the great man...
Munich Olympic Stadium features a huge cable net roof, awe-inspiring even today (Photo: Wikipedia)

Frei Otto, b.1925 is one of the greatest living structural engineers. A master and pioneer of lightweight tensile structures he studied architecture at the Technische Universitat in Berlin after being drafted as a fighter pilot in the Second World War. After a brief stint in the States where he met some influential figures in the world of then contemporary design, Otto set up practise back in Germany in 1952.

Otto's first major structure was a saddle-shaped cable net pavilion at in Stuttgart and what a start! Naturally the magnificent debut of young talent attracted major attention from the worlds of engineering and architecture

Having met architectural wonders such as Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe and Lloyd Wright, Otto went head to head with another visionary, Buckminster Fuller at the Montreal Expo, both designing pavilions and both interested in structural efficiency (Otto via tension, Fuller by his famous tetrahedral designs).

Founding the Institute for Lightweight Structure at the University of Stuttgart in 1964 Otto continued his work with such projects as the pictured Munich Olympic Arena of 1972.

Interestingly, early in his career Otto used physical models to text complex tensile forms before adopting computer based techniques as the size of his projects increased. Since the Munich Stadium in 1972, Otto has spent time studying biological structures and researched grid shells which are seeing great popularity at the time.

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Discussion about “Engineering Origins: Frei Otto”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. ahmad   
Dec 22 2007 14:19


I am ascertaining about a tensile structure so I need technical information and analysis about it.can you send for me technical information?

thanks a lot.

2. Keren   
Apr 20 2008 15:10


I am ascertaining about the Olympic Stadium in Munich planned by Frei Otto so I need technical information and analysis about it.can you send for me technical information?

thanks a lot.

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