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Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod

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AD Classics: German Pavilion, Expo '67 / Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod

07:00 - 27 April, 2015
AD Classics: German Pavilion, Expo '67 / Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod, © Frei Otto
© Frei Otto

The pivotal turning point in the late Frei Otto’s career – capped by last month’s Pritzker announcement – came nearly fifty years ago at the Expo ’67 World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec. In collaboration with architect Rolf Gutbrod, Otto was responsible for the exhibition pavilion of the Federal Republic of Germany, a tensile canopy structure that brought his experiments in lightweight architecture to the international stage for the first time. Together with Fuller’s Biosphere and Safdie’s Habitat 67, the German Pavilion was part of the Expo’s late-modern demonstration of the potential of technology, pre-fabrication, and mass production to generate a new humanitarian direction for architecture. This remarkable collection at the Expo was both the zenith of modern meliorism and its tragic swan song; never since has the world seen such a singularly hopeful display of innovative architecture.

Form-finding study model. Image © Frei Otto Inside the German Pavilion during Expo '67. Image © Frei Otto © Frei Otto Nighttime inverted the flow of light through the canopy wells. Image © Frei Otto + 5