Those outside of the architectural world might not have heard of Frie Otto, but his engineering work and inventions led to many of the world’s finest buildings and structures that have been constructed in the last 50 years.
One of Otto’s biggest obsessions was the use of tensile structures, which was inspired by his experiences in the Second World War. He was held in France as a prisoner of war for two years and spent his time constructing different structures from any materials he could find. This gave him the idea of building something great with fewer resources.
Here we look at some of the greatest building designs by Otto, and how he inspired many architects from across the world.
Munich Olympic Park
One of the most famous structures that Otto was responsible for was the tensile canopy roof that he used on the Munich Olympic Park, constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. He brought the vision of Gunter Behnison to life by using over 70,000 square metres of roofing across the Olympic Park to form the impression of alpine peaks.
The first use of a fabric structure by Otto was in 1955 at Kassel’s Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden exhibition), which went in a completely different direction to the heavy concrete architectural style of Germany in the early tomid 20th century.
Otto’s first large form construction was for Montreal’s World Fair in 1967, when he developed the canopy used on the German Pavilion. The tent style structure used eight poles and a steel cable mesh, which were covered with a polyester fabric that was almost completely translucent.
Throughout his life Otto collaborated on a global scale, including working with Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect, in 2000 to develop the Japanese pavilion for the Hannover Expo. This made use of waterproof translucent paper and recycled cardboard tubing.
These developments can still be seen in existence today, with a tensile canopy such as those developed by http://fabricarchitecture.com/ used in many building and structural designs. The techniques used to create the fabric might be more innovative toady, but the ideas behind the concepts are still the same.
Otto’s vision will live on in future generations of architects who will be inspired by his visionary use of resources to create unique spaces.