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Interbau Exhibition Hall

Berlin, Germany
1 of 10Landesarchiv Berlin

In addition to the Interbau Exhibition Hall of "The City of Tomorrow", there were numerous German and foreign special exhibitions at Berlin Interbau (1957). For this purpose, the team of Frei Otto and Günther Günschel developed a hall type, which can be erected with a width of 16 m in three different lengths - 14, 32 or 44 m. The pavilions, easy to install and carry, was made with canopy without internal supports. The construction method had to ensure that the individual parts were reusable after disassembly. According to a similar principle, Frei Otto also designed the exterior walls of these halls. In total, 20 exhibitors in 12 halls presented their ideas about the housing topic. The large pavilion with an area of 52 x 100m was completely open with no external wall. Otto created a translucent roof covering with a simple solution made by wooden boards, steel pipes, and polystyrene-coated cotton canvas. In April 1957 a watertight roof surface of 4,000 m2 was built with 79 buckles, traversed by long cross-valleys, over which the rain could flow. Since the roof skin was used primarily as a cover, but less as a self-supporting structure, the possibilities of the material were not utilized. Only after, with the cafe at Bellevue Palace in April 1957, Frei Otto was able to adequately present the possibilities of membrane construction.