Learning From The Master #19 – Frei Otto

Omah Architecture Library kindly invited you to our learning from master venue, Frei Otto, physical, biological and technical processes.

Frei Otto was born in Siegmar, Germany, on May 31, 1925, and grew up in Berlin. “Frei” in German means “free”; his mother thought of the name after attending a lecture on freedom. Otto’s father and grandfather were both sculptors, and as a young student, he worked as an apprentice in stonemasonry during school holidays. For a hobby he flew and designed glider planes — this activity piqued his interest in how thin membranes stretched over light frames could respond to aerodynamic and structural forces.

Over the years, Otto’s research teams would include philosophers, historians, naturalists and environmentalists. He is a world-renowned innovator in architecture and engineering who pioneered modern fabric roofs over tensile structures and also worked with other materials and building systems such as grid shells, bamboo, and wooden lattices. He made important advances in the use of air as a structural material and to pneumatic theory, and the development of convertible roofs. Otto made the results of the research available to other architects. He always favored collaboration in architecture. [1]

Frei Otto forever changed the way we think about structure and building. Through his experiments in form-finding, Otto simultaneously affirmed and questioned the conventions of engineering as we knew it, and in the process showed us unprecedented solutions to age old problems — where others saw mass as the solution, he offered lightness. Like the ancients and others that came before him, he questioned the origins of our assumptions by going back to nature and figuring it out for himself. There he found systems, networks, and surfaces that exceeded all our imaginations. He found logic in complexity, and proceeded to translate the lessons he learned into efficiently realized constructions. [2]

We gladly welcome all of the restless spirits to join all the lectures on 12th September, Saturday 2015 at 10.00 am, and to describe and to exchange ideas, thoughts about the topics. This short course will only provide 25 seats maximum [because of the limited space in one small building] ; Please kindly send email to omahlibrary.reservation@gmail.com for RSVP.


[1]Frei Otto Bibliography http://www.pritzkerprize.com/2015/biography
[2]Frank Gehry, tribute to Frei Otto,www.pritzkerprize.com/2015/tributes-frei-otto