1968: Olympic Stadium – Munich, Germany
Innovation: Lightweight Tensile Cable Structure
Location: Munich, Germany
By: Gunther Behnisch (architect) and Frei Otto (Structural Engineer)
The construction of the Munich Stadium started with the idea of building a structure that imitated the Alps and, most importantly, set a counterpart to the heavy, authoritarian stadium in Berlin so Germany could be shown in a new light. As a result, Gunther Behnisch and Frei Otto, often considered the world’s leading authority on lightweight tensile and membrane structures, collaborated and came up with the cloud like, wavy, tensile structure of the Munich Stadium.
The structure of the Munich Stadium consists of a continuous tensile surface that bridges not only the stadium but also all of the main buildings of the Olympic Games creating a series of volumes across the site. The canopy membrane is suspended from multiple vertical masts that allow for the dramatic curves across the surface to flow across the site changing form, scale, and sectional characteristics. As complicated as the structure looks to the visitor, Otto’s high precision in the design 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.