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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Stadiums
  4. Germany
  5. Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch
  6. 1972
  7. AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch
AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch, © wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

© wikimedia commons © wikimedia commons © wikimedia commons © wikimedia commons +17

From the architect. Often mentioned as a pioneer in lightweight tensile and membrane construction, yet overshadowed in the discipline of architecture, Frei Otto along with Gunther Behnisch collaborated to design the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany. 

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

With the Olympics having already been held in Berlin in 1936, Otto and Behnisch took the second Olympics games in Germany as an opportunity and a second chance to show Germany in a new light.  Their goal was to design a structure that would emulate the games motto: “The Happy Games” as more of a whimsical architectural response that would overshadow the heavy, authoritarian stadium in Berlin.

plan_02
plan_02

Otto and Behnisch conceptualized a sweeping tensile structure that would flow continuously over the site imitating the draping and rhythmic protrusions of the Swiss Alps.  The result is a suspended cloud-like structure that appears to be floating over the site branching in between the natatorium, gymnasium, and the main stadium.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

The continuous tensile surface that bridges all of the main buildings of the Olympic Games is subject to a hierarchical structural system that creates a series of volumes across the site.  The canopies membrane is suspended from a multitude of vertical masts that allow for the dramatic draping curves of the surface to flow dynamically across the site changing form, scale, and sectional characteristics. 

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

The large canopies are stabilized laterally through a network of smaller cables that attach to a larger steel cable extending over the entire span into concrete footings at either end.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

Aside from the buildings that the membrane covers, there is a series of volumes that are covered by the suspended surface that are used as flexible space for stands to be used during the games and at various events.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

For such an expansive site, the minimal structural components work to create the dynamic sweeping surfaces that are created by various tensile connections resulting in an undulating mesh.  As the system works its way across the artificial landscape toward the main stadium, which was built in a crater from the bombings of WWII, the membrane begins to compress as it fades around the stadium.  

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

The dramatic shift in scales of coverage heightens the perception of the floating artificial landscape that forms out of the ground to create large open span volumes only to integrate back into the ground.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

In addition to its “connection” to the landscape, the acrylic glass panels that clad the tensile membrane establish a relationship to its context and the light exposure that it experiences.  The acrylic panels shimmer in the sunlight, reflecting the light, the color of the sky, and the surrounding landscape.  When illuminated, the suspended membrane appears as a cloud formation swarming over the site.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons

Due to Otto’s precise calculations the entire structural and membrane system was constructed off site.  The high precision allowed for a simple assembly to one of the world’s most innovative and complex structural systems that have worked solely on the premise of tension.  

Even after almost 40 years after its completion, the tensile tent-like structure appears just as it did during the 1972 Olympics, the lines, form, structure, and the architectural awe still remain.

© wikimedia commons
© wikimedia commons
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Andrew Kroll. "AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch" 11 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/109136/ad-classics-munich-olympic-stadium-frei-otto-gunther-behnisch/>
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46 Comments

Hans Geiger · September 24, 2014

Professional passion..

Ekra · January 14, 2013

Very Nice..........

Archicad Jobs · August 18, 2012
Habalis Construction · July 30, 2012

#OlympicsArchitecture Beautiful Munich Olympic Stadium-tensile glass tech & said to mirror the Alps. More at @archdaily http://t.co/IG9ljkis

Dan Audette · July 29, 2012

#OlympicsArchitecture Beautiful Munich Olympic Stadium-tensile glass tech & said to mirror the Alps. More at @archdaily http://t.co/IG9ljkis

S Sarkozy-Banoczy · July 29, 2012

#OlympicsArchitecture Beautiful Munich Olympic Stadium-tensile glass tech & said to mirror the Alps. More at @archdaily http://t.co/IG9ljkis

CSICincinnatiChapter · July 29, 2012

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John Kissinger · July 29, 2012

RT @BuildingMuseum: #OlympicsArchitecture Beautiful Munich Olympic Stadium-tensile glass tech. More at @archdaily http://t.co/i3LPEq6o

NtlBuildingMuseum · July 29, 2012

#OlympicsArchitecture Beautiful Munich Olympic Stadium-tensile glass tech & said to mirror the Alps. More at @archdaily http://t.co/IG9ljkis

IIIE · June 15, 2012

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Betti Moser · November 05, 2011

Sometimes I get treated to translating texts about amazing architecture like this: http://t.co/ad4TEgth :-)

Krea Ingeniería y C. · August 12, 2011

Interesante alternativa al vidrio:
http://t.co/zmjQdyn

andra saras putri · August 10, 2011

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch | ArchDaily http://t.co/KIMQ3tN via @archdaily

Bruno Bellomo · July 11, 2011

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch http://t.co/d9rCHg1 vía @archdaily

Contemporaneu · February 25, 2011

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IntegralBlinds.com · February 18, 2011

RT @4kitect: I so love #geodesic #design http://bit.ly/hStgft Frei Otto, Gunther Behnisch Munich stadium

paul carline · February 18, 2011

I so love #geodesic #design http://bit.ly/hStgft Frei Otto, Gunther Behnisch Munich stadium

junglebrain · February 15, 2011

Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch | ArchDaily: http://bit.ly/g1Jsnq

junglebrain · February 15, 2011

Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch | ArchDaily: http://bit.ly/g1Jsnq

mattsu · February 15, 2011

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch | ArchDaily http://t.co/aiGT85Q via archdaily

Tom Lenar · February 14, 2011

Modern Architectural History...Munich Olympic Stadium by Frei Otto & Gunther Behnisch http://bit.ly/eeuUQ3 #in

Carel Munoz · February 13, 2011

AD Classics: Munich Olympic Stadium / Frei Otto &amp; Gunther Behnisch http://goo.gl/Clrio Free un genio 1964

Graphity · February 12, 2011

Great article, I'm from Munich, originally! Thank you! Will you make an article about the atheletes dorms in Munich as well?

Andreas Muno · February 12, 2011

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Olympic Tweeter · February 12, 2011

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daqb design · February 11, 2011

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designrelated · February 11, 2011

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Emerson Oliveira · February 11, 2011

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TUGSTUDIO · February 11, 2011

love.
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Dave S. · February 11, 2011

This project still feels fresh. Really an incredible achievement.

Papo de Arquiteto · February 11, 2011

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DEZIGN · February 11, 2011

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Membranes24.com · February 11, 2011

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Scott @ Cube Studio · February 11, 2011

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Tim Abrahams · February 11, 2011

An Olympic Stadium that was designed to look temporary even if it wasn&#39t. http://archdai.ly/fmemfc

vivipatriajaya · February 11, 2011

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Christian Speelmanns · February 11, 2011

Hey Guys, nice article, but there are some facts to tell about the stadium:

The competition in the late 1960ies was won by Behnisch & Partner. The young team joint the compitition last minute while nearly the model dissapeared by the parcel service. Inspired by the design for the German pavillon of Expo 67 Montreal by Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbord they formed their roof with a nylon stocking, not having a glimpse of an idea how to build it. Egon Eiermann, head of the Jury, recognized the power or the design and helped them to win the competition.

Later, Frei Otto helped the Team as constructive consultant. Important measurings and calculations were done in his institute in Stuttgart. The official engeniers were Leonhardt Andrä und Partner with Jörg Schlaich und Rudolph Bergermann as project leaders. Frei Otto later left the team arguing about details of construction.

The landscape design was done by Günther Grzimek and was a role model of some parks built later in Germany. The Stadium was not a bomb crater, but the olympic hill (Olympiahügel) was built of rubbish from ruins of the world war II.

Architecture+Molding · February 11, 2011

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ArchitecturePassion · February 11, 2011

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Barry Maguire · February 11, 2011

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luiscanela · February 11, 2011

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···

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