Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

Roof for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium

Designed in collaboration with Gunther Behnisch, the roofing for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium was considered a pioneer in lightweight tensile and membrane construction. The cloud-like and innovative structure was a striking departure from the harsh and authoritarian appearance of previous roofing structures and helped present a new, lighter face of Germany to the world. Covered in acrylic glass panels, the suspended membrane delicately floats above the stadium and maintains views out towards the surrounding landscape.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

Roof for the Multihalle (multipurpose hall) in Mannheim, Germany

Completed in 1975 over the course of five years, the Multihalle is topped by a double curvature wooden gridshell structure designed by Otto, Carlfried Mutschler, and Joachim Langner. The large-span gridshell was made for a horticultural exhibition in Mannheim, Germany and covers an area of nearly 9,500 square meters. Listed as a historical cultural monument since 1998, this timber lattice self-supporting roof structure allows diffused light into the building and creates a sense of weightlessness inside.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, Canada

The Expo 67’s West German Pavilion Roof was a competition-winning tensile membrane design that took Otto and collaborator Rolf Gutbrod several years to develop. Thanks to careful design and a form-finding structural engineering principle called dynamic relaxation, the structure took only six weeks to construct and upon completion, was the first tent ever used as an exhibition building at a world exhibition. The roof comprises a steel wire net fastened to eight slender steel masts that was then covered by a translucent plastic skin.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

Japan Paper Pavilion, Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany

Frei Otto designed the Japan Pavilion for Expo 2000 in collaboration with Shigeru Ban, the 2014 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Constructed entirely from paper, the grid shell pavilion is made up of recyclable paper tubes without joints. The airy tunnel arch measures 73.8 meters long and 25 meters wide. Honeycomb boards were used as partitions in the interior.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

Diplomatic Club Heart Tent in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Completed in 1980, the Diplomatic Club Heart Tent serves as the centerpiece to the interior garden of Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter. The beautiful canopy is made from 2,020 8-millimeter-thick tiles of stained glass painted with colorful and traditional patterns created by Bettina Otto, Frei Otto’s daughter. The canopy helps protect visitors from the powerful sun and is made from cable net construction.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

Munich Zoo Aviary

In collaboration with Jörg Gribl and Ted Happold, Frei Otto designed a large aviary for the Munich Hellabrunn, the world’s first “GeoZoo” located in Munich, Germany. The innovative and thin, stainless steel mesh canopy creates a cage-free-like environment for the animals. The site covers an area of 5,000 square meters, with a height of 18 meters.

Pritzker Prize, Frei Otto, Jorg Gribl, Ted Happold, Pritzker Prize Laureate, 2015 Pritzker Prize, 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium, City in the Arctic, Munich Zoo Aviary, Shigeru Ban, Japanese Pavilion, paper pavilion, Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, Multihalle, Mannheim, 1967 Expo

City in the Arctic Proposal

City in the Arctic was Otto’s visionary proposal to house 40,000 residents within an air-supported city dome in Antarctica. Created with engineers at Arup in 1971, the pneumatic dome stretches 2 kilometers across and would be built on an estuary for easy access to shipping routes. A nuclear power station would provide heat and energy to the dome and would help keep the harbor ice-free. The proposed canopy would be constructed from a translucent skin attached by a grid of high-strength polyester fiber cables.

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Images via Pritzker Prize, © Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn