To learn how to build economically, environmentally and in harmony with nature, Frei Otto founded the small private research institute "Development Centre for Lightweight Structures" in 1957. As a professor at the Technical University of Stuttgart, he founded and directed "Materials Research and Research in Structural Engineering" and "Natural Constructions - Lightweight construction in architecture and nature ". In interdisciplinary teams of architects, engineers, biologists, ethologists, paleontologists, morphologists, physicists, physicians, historians and philosophers, Frei Otto examined cells and bones, strains and stalks, cobwebs and bird nests, water swirls and bubbles. The lessons learned contributed to the development of "long-span shell structures" which are similarly efficient and stable as in nature. For Frei Otto, architectural form is not designed, but determined experimentally in an empirical process: "The aesthetic element can not be planned directly. An aesthetic form is the end of a process. Alone with the desire for beauty you will not reach it. If we have worked honestly, sometimes we get it as a present. "
Frei Otto was born 1925 in Siegmar / Saxony, Germany. He studied Architecture at the Technical University of Berlin and sociology and urban development at the University of Virginia, where he also undertook study visits to Wright, Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe and Neutra. In 1952, he graduated as Engineer of Architecture, and in 1955 wrote his Ph.D. on "The suspended roof”. He worked as freelance architect, inventor, author and designer and was the Initiator of the „Development Centre for Lightweight Structures“ in Berlin in 1957. From 1964 to 1990, he was Founder and Director of the “Institute for Lightweight Structures (IL)” at the University of Stuttgart. In 1967, he designed the German Pavilion at the Expo '67 in Montreal and in 1968 the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Centre in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, both with Rolf Gutbrod. In 1969, he founded the Special Research Unit “Wide-spanned Lightweight Structures” at the German Research Foundation. In 1972, he designed the Munich Olympic Stadium in cooperation with office Behnisch and Partner and in 1975 the Multihalle Mannheim, Germany, together with Mutschler, Langner and Partner. He received the Honda prize for Architecture and Nature in 1990, the Wolf Prize in Architecture in 1997 and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998. He holds a Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and an Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Help us to keep creativity free, independent, and accessible to all
penccil is the only platform for cutting edge creativity without user tracking.
The penccil community is growing every day. But we need your support to keep penccil independent and free as a safe space for creative people around the world. Every donation, big or small, helps.
Our mission is to make creative expression truly free, independent, and accessible to all, without fees, cookies and user tracking. Your donation to penccil goes to the costs of servers and maintenance and helps us to develop penccil further.