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Lightweight Structures Institute

Stuttgart, Germany
1 of 7

An experimental structure was erected on the university campus in Stuttgart-Vaihingen in 1966 to test the construction and assembly of the Montreal pavilion. Frei Otto had fixed the size of this experimental structure (460 sqm of the roofed area) at a seventeenth of the area of the Montreal pavilion with the intention of using the net later as a support system for the Institute for lightweight structures (IL), which he had founded in 1964. The net has a mesh width of 50 cm and had been prefabricated in four strips which were then fitted together to form two symmetrical sections on the site and suspended within the peripheral ropes. The tubular steel mast was raised by a crane and temporarily guyed with ropes. The ridge and eye edge cables were fastened to the masthead and the net was drawn evenly and slowly up the mast. The peripheral cables were fixed in the anchorage points and the net suspended in the ridge and eye edge cables. Pre-tension in the net was achieved by a hydraulic raising of the mast and tension on the anchorage points. The sand-tub in which the mast was mounted was filled with sand to fix it in position.

After standing for two years the experimental building was dismantled, re-erected 2km away and extended for use as the home of the Institute for Lightweight Structures: the net was removed, folded from the edge, wrapped around the mast and transported by crane to the new site. There it was pitched again within a day. Subsequently, the roof was covered and the interior closed off with an all-around glass facade and extended as a room for the institute. The institute building is one of the few tents in long-term use.The research and teaching have been conducted under the roof for 25 years.

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thedani, May 4th, 2017
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