July 21, 2015
Architecture Education Innovation Visual arts

The Institute for Lightweight Structures (IL)
University of Stuttgart
Director: Frei Otto

After a series of guest professorships at the universities of Washington, Ulm, Yale, Berkeley, MIT and Harvard, Frei Otto was appointed an honorary professor in 1964 at the University of Stuttgart. Upon his appointment the Institute for Lightweight Structures was founded. Since 1967 Frei Otto researched and taught as a regular professor at the University of Stuttgart.
The initial years of Frei Otto at the University were greatly characterised by the planning of structures for the Olympic Games in 1972, for which a whole range of institutes at the university were commissioned to perform fundamental development and research work. An interdisciplinary research team, in the core of which Frei Otto’s team was initially, laid the foundations in this period for the computer-based form-finding and calculation of large cable net structures, their constructive design, calculation and dimensioning. The knowledge acquired in this period at the University of Stuttgart, which was continued with the special research field 64 “Long-span shell structures“ and ultimately with the special research field 230 “Natural constructions“ and continuously expanded, forms the basis for the worldwide top position the University of Stuttgart holds in the field of lightweight structures in architecture and civil engineering.
Half a century ago, Otto became world famous as a pioneer in the design of tensile structures made from metal armatures and lightweight membranes. Otto’s work includes the Mannheim Multihalle, the Munich Zoo Aviary, the 1967 Montreal World Expo German Pavilion and co-design of the 1972 Munich Olympics Stadium.

Text source:
Video source: youtube – Frei Otto Film
Music: “Breaking Away” di Shaun Escoffery