A Conversation with Frei Otto by Juan Maria Songel

By Juan Maria Songel

One of many 20th century's most crucial layout visionaries, German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto(b. 1925) made his mark with a sequence of super-light tensile structures—such because the West German Pavilion for Montreal's Expo sixty seven and the Olympic Stadium in Munich (1972)—that are celebrated for his or her technical ingenuity and fabric potency. but regardless of Otto's achievements, rather little has been released on his paintings. A dialog with Frei Otto includes a complete interview with Otto in addition to his serious textual content Fundamentals of a destiny Architecture in its entirety. In his dialog with Juan María Songel, Otto talks freely approximately every thing from his early connections to the Bauhaus to his techniques at the present country of engineering and structure. the newest in our Conversations sequence, this publication additionally comprises photographs of Otto's most vital and famous works.

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So the fact that identical vaults of hung forms can be generated through graphic statics is something that I already knew from my time in the prisoner camp, specifically towards the end of 1945. On occasion you have shared your experience in your father’s workshop, when he soaked a cloth in plaster and hung it, so that once dried it could be inverted. Yes, it was simply part of a sculptor’s work. It was there when I tried to build these inverted forms for the first time, and even today I continue to play with this: a marvelous toy.

The process through which one thing is combined with another can be done very systematically, and I have developed an entire series of inventions that have their origin in this combinatorial analysis. But the truly important things did not arise from that method, but largely from fortuitous or casual observations made during experiments, some of which were planned in a completely systematic style. I have always combined systematic experimentation with the fortuitous or casual, where chance plays a role; if something is accidentally discovered, it would be stupid to reject it simply because it doesn’t fit within the systematization.

Naturally, the role of your system sketches is very important not only for classifying and organizing, but also for inventing new possibilities. Yes, because one discovers things that have not been studied extensively yet, and then the gaps can be filled; I call this the “systematic method of invention,” but it’s only a method. The process through which one thing is combined with another can be done very systematically, and I have developed an entire series of inventions that have their origin in this combinatorial analysis.

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