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Expo 67 German Pavilion

Montreal, Canada
1 of 3 Jeffrey Stanton 1997

Frei Otto's elegant space frame tent was used to cover the German pavilion's exhibit area. While it took the architect several years to develop his system, it only took six weeks to build. His system used a roof of steel mesh suspended from eight slender steel masts of varied height, situated at irregularly intervals and supported by steel cables anchored outside the structure, covered an area the size of a city block. The roof's steel mesh net, hung from the guy wires, was then covered by a translucent plastic skin. The tent itself and all of its components were fabricated in Germany.

The structure adequately dealt with the twin problems of aesthetics and economics. At the least it was a fanciful way of escaping from the tyranny of the box, but it also produced a unique and beautiful interior space. The space below was lit through the transparent plastic and through odd-shaped windows in the roof. As to cost, the building wasn't cheap to build since it was a one of a kind project. But it had potential for its steel and plastic roof weighed only 150 tons; one third to one fifth the weight of normal roofing materials. The tent concept had the ability to adapt to irregular topography of any site. The concept was used again with a much larger tent to enclose the swimming stadium at Munich's 1972 Summer Olympics.