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Otto, Frei 1925–, German architect. Most notable for his tensile and pneumatic structures, Otto is among the first major architects to experiment with lightweight design. He is a noted designer of exhibition tents and sports arenas. Otto has also experimented with pneumatic membranes stabilized and maintained by means of air and gas pressure.

Structures built with these membranes are used for oil-storage tanks, grain silos, and greenhouses.

Frei Otto was born in Siegmar, Saxiny in 1925. From 1931 to 1943 he attended Schadow School in Zehlendorf, Berlin as a trainee mason. After serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, he trained at the Technical University of Berlin from 1948 to 1950. In 1952 he established a studio at Zehlendorf and in 1957 he founded the Development Center for Lightweight Construction in Berlin. Seven years later he transferred the center's activities to the Institute for Lightweight Structures in Stuttgart.

Otto exhibited a special gift for creating lightweight tent-like structures. In the 1950s he used models to define and test complex tensile shapes. As the scale of his projects increased, Otto pioneered a computer-based procedure for determining their shape and behavior. He often created pavilions composed of primary membrane elements in an additive series.

He also developed a convertible roof with a variable geometry. Since 1972, Otto has studied biological structures and researched grid shells.
An atypical architect, Otto usually acts as a catalyst for and provides research support to other architects.


Four-Point Tent as a Music Pavilion of the Bundesgartenschau. Germany 1955 FABRIC IN TENSION COMPRESSION MEMBER . Kassel.

Four-Point Tent as an Exhibition Pavilion for the contributions to the competition for the peace memorial in the city park. Germany 1988 (Jürgen Bradatsch) . Leonberg.

“Heart Tent” of the Diplomatic Club in Riyadh. Saudi “Heart Tent” of the Diplomatic Club in Riyadh. Saudi .

Omrania) .“Heart Tent” of the Diplomatic Club in Riyadh. called “Tuwaiq Palace”. Saudi Arabia. Paintings by Bettina Otto (Oho Joint Venture: F. 1986. Otto Happold.

Pavilion ”Tanzbrunnen“ over a dance floor at the Bundesgartenschau . Germany 1957 (in cooperation with E. Cologne. Frank) .R. S. Bubner. Lohs and D.


Munich.Interior view of the Olympic Stadium roof. Germany 1972 .

Germany 1972 (together with Behnisch and Partner.Roofs of the Olympic Stadium Munich. Leonhardt and Andrae) .

Installation 1965. Expo ’67 in Montreal). moving and upgrading 1968. was renovated in 1993 . The building.Institute for Lightweight Structures at the University of StuttgartVaihingen during a meeting (initially a test-building of the German Pavilion. listed as a historic monument.

PNEUMATIC STUCTURES Feasibility study “City in the Antarctica“. Arup) . Bubner. 1971. O. Tange. Air-supported building as climatic shell over a city (together with E. K.


H. Germany 1971 (together with B. Isler) . Rasch.Convertible Umbrellas at the Bundesgartenschau. Cologne.

1978 (together with B. Rasch and Office Happold) .Stage umbrellas for a concert tour of the group Pink Floyd.

Convertibles Umbrellas in the inner court of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. 1971 (Bodo Rasch with Jürgen Bradatsch) . Saudi Arabia.


for the gridshell of the DEUBAU. Essen. loaded with unails. Germany 1962 . Essen.Suspend model composed of textile threads. Germany 1962 Gridshell of the DEUBAU.

Council of Ministers. Büro Happold. Ove Arup and Partne . Frei Otto.Glance into the model of the six-angle gridshell on branched pillars over the leafy patio of Kings Office. Saudi Arabia. Riyadh. Majlis al Shura. 1979 (Rolf Gutbrod.


Feasibility study “Tree Structures” for an exhibition hall. Yale University. USA 1960 (Students of Frei Otto during a seminar) .

Ove Arup and Partner . 1979 (Rolf Gutbrod. Büro Happold.Support pillars of a six-angle gridshell in the Kings Office. Saudi Arabia. Frei Otto. Riyadh. Majlis al Shura. Council of Ministers.

Pedestrian footbridges at the Landschaftspark Mechtenberg in Gelsenkirchen. Dr. Prof. Germany 2003 (Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn. Hilbers Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH.-Ing. Happold Ingenieurbüro GmbH) .

2000 (Christoph Ingenhoven and Partner. Frei Otto. Germany. 2000 Suspend model for form finding of the arches for the new train station in Stuttgart. Germany.Soap film model for the new train station in Stuttgart. Büro .

view of the underground hall with the platforms. 2000 .Model for the new Stuttgart train station.

expo’67 Architect : Frei Otto Location : Montreal.German pavillion . Canada Date : 1967 Building Type : Exhibition Hall Construction System : Tensile Climate : Cold temperate Context : Urban exhibition site Style : Modern .


and edge ropes. The prestressed membrane consisted of a translucent skin hung from a steel wire net. The entire area was covered by a single membrane of irregular plan and varying heights. with this competition-winning project. Eye loops filled with clear plastic material accentuated these points and the saddle surfaces they created. Its contours were determined by the high points of the masts and the low points where the membrane was drawn. to create a man-made landscape. ridge. was connected with the mast heads and anchor blocks. funnel. down to the The cavernous interior contained modular steel platforms arranged at different levels."Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod attempted." . by eye. which.

000-sq.A glance at the striking silhouette of the German Pavilion inevitably invites a closer look. ft. is made of a steel net lined with a 100. translucent plastic skin. Its roof. . of which the highest soars 120 feet into the sky. supported by eight steel masts.

000 square meters (86. maximum length: 130 meters (427 feet) maximum width: 105 meters (345 feet) covered area: 8.Details Composite high-and-low-point net with 8 support points. 3 restraining points in combination with 3 continuous ridges.000 square feet) mast heights: 14 to 38 meters (46 to 125 feet) CONSTRUCTION MATERALS USED: Masts : Steel Membrane : PVC – Coated polyester fabric Cable net : Steel . 31 perimeter anchor points.



The cable net of the German Pavilion during installation. Expo '67. Montreal. Canada .

A close-up of the roof for the German Pavilion .


Outdoor restaurant and patio at the German Pavilion .


THANK .YOU Rizvi Rajappan Nithu John .

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