Learning from the Master #19 – Frei Otto

We had a ‘Learning from Master’ session on Frei Otto. He was a German architect and structural engineer, well known for his pioneering innovations in lightweight and tensile structures.
He was born in Siegmar, German (May 31th 1925), grew up in Berlin. He had a great curiosity, as seen from his childhood. He put a great interest in paper planes, made several models of them and found out from the relationship of different paper airplane models with effect means flying. that is where the interest shown by the membrane.
In his career life, he started learn architecture diploma student in 1943, after that he must follow the conscription, at that time he worked as a military pilot and then continued as a soldier. Routine, do not fit with his passion, he decided to run away from the program. it led to his imprisonment. then at the detention period, he got the chance to design a tent for soldiers.
in 1948, he continued study architecture at Technology University of Berlin. then in 1950, he followed the internship in the United State. after that, he started practicing as freelance. In 1853, he learn more the structure of the membrane to the experts. In 1957, he followed the Federal Garden Exhibition by making Dance Pavilion with a membrane structure. and in 1958 he founded the Institute for lightweight structure and continued to establish his firm. some of his works are Munich Zoo Aviary, Japan Pavilion Expo 2000 Hannover,and Munich Olympic Stadium.
Some characteristics of the design, are;
1. Lightweight
structure and construction are applied to the light and tensile structures. He also studied the lightweight structural system through research on soap bubble.
2. Open
Applying the concept of openness in design. most of the buildings will be minimal partitions or walls. the building houses a public space such as shelter.
3. Nature
He learn from nature. so he is always doing research on something in nature before applying to the innovative structure. he is a curious person, when he want to know about A, he will find out about that. such as, he learn phenuematic structure started from a curiousity of dragon fly’s wing. According to him, in nature there are natural principles which if we explored in more depth can be out with these systems and take these values ​​into the design, particularly in the building structure.
4. Democratic
Lived during the Nazi reign in Germany, the war, and there are several buildings that reflect stiff this period, making it want to make a breakthrough, through his building design that is flexible, dynamic, open and attractive.
From the lecture, we can learn to keep being focus with own interest. specification of interest is very important as architect, we can be expert in one thing and it will give us self value.
see you on our next events! Let’s learn and be inspired!