November 13, 2007

Christoph Ingenhoven and Frei Otto.

You might know Frei Otto: the engineer who masterly transforms natural, organic structures into flowing buildings: grid shells, tree structures, minimal surfaces and more. He was one of the masterminds of the Munich Olympic Stadium (together with the office Behnisch and partner). He was founder and director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures at the University of Stuttgart, Germany (1964-1990).

mock-up of the lightweight construction

Maybe you also know Christoph Ingenhoven: since 1985 he is leading the cooperate architectural practise Ingenhoven Architects – best known for energy efficient high rise building.

Together, Christoph Ingenhoven and Frei Otto joined the competition for the main station in Stuttgart – and won. "The supporting structure is characterised by a minimisation of construction height and a reduction in surfaces and diameters. The form of the modular-constructed shell support is based on the reversed suspension model."

Model for the new Stuttgart train station, view of the underground hall

But on July 17th 2007 Frei Otto has submitted a statement (german content) to express his concerns about the railway station’s design. He claims, that his ideas have been widely used to win the competion, however, the design was changed without his influence. Moreover, he regrets that "one member of the team claims that he’s the only author of the project".

Summarized: Without taking position in that case - even the partnership between architects and engineers isn’t free of frictions – another authorship issue.