Like every child, the first time I saw the circus I was so excited. In addition to the funny performances, the trapeze has always been the part that I love, but also makes me scared. I loved watching aerial performers flying around the heights of the tent, challenging gravity, but I was afraid of seeing an accident. The circus’s big tents move around with the performances, and this temporary space can be moved around according to their needs. Because of their life styles, nomadic people take the heavens and the earth as their homes and look for pastures new. Humans developed the simplest way of flexible living, such as a tipi (a tent with a cone) or a yurt. When the occupant or tribe decides tomove, it can be quickly dismantled and carried away, and when it is decided to settle, it can be assembled quickly.
There are world famous big tents in Munich, Germany. Every autumn, the Oktoberfest is held in giant tents. The largest national folk festival, which lasts just two weeks, is held in large tents that can be quickly assembled and removed. This is why the light-duty structure of tents is used to accommodate a large number of people during short-term large-scale events.
In fact, there are a few amazing tents in Munich, especially the stadium’s roof of the1972 Summer Olympic Games, known for its revolutionary tent-like roof structure. Its architect, Frei Otto, specialized in lightweight tensile structures, opening a new chapter in structural mathematics and civil engineering. In his early years he studied architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, but he was drafted by the air force of Nazi Germany during World War II as a fighter pilot. He was later captured and detained in a prisoner of war camp. During this period, Otto studied with an aviation engineer, but they lacked materials and urgently needed accommodation, so they built a tent for a temporary stay.
In 1952, Otto opened his own architectural firm in Germany and began a long-term architectural and research career. In 1964, Otto founded the Institute for the Study of Light Structures at the University of Stuttgart and served as a professor until his retirement. He loved research, and many of his tensile structure research projects or models with rich shapes were difficult to construct with the technology at the time, so there were fewer works compared to other architects. His main works include the 1967 West Hall of the MontrealWorld Expo in Canada and the main stadium of the 1972 Summer Olympics.
The stadium’s architectural team was led by the Stuttgart architect Günter Behnisch as the chief designer. Together with Frei Otto, they developed a plan to integrate the buildings with the natural landscape and to coordinate with the regional plan proposed by environmental planner Günther Grzimek. Two thirds of the stadium stands are built below ground level, and only one third of them are built above ground, with the Olympic Lake as a backdrop. The roof is designed by Otto as a translucent tent with a conical shape and consists of a mesh of cables. Each grid square is 75×75 cm, and the roof of the net is inlaid withlight grey-brown acrylic glass. Rubber is used to clamp the glass into the aluminium frame, so that the light inside the covered part is sufficient and soft. The course, the stands, the approach route and the entire Olympic Park are linked. This expressive design emulates the shape of the Alps and is intendedto be distinguished from the Berlin Olympics during the Nazi administration in1936. The huge, transparent stadium ceiling symbolizes an emerging, democraticand optimistic Germany. The tented design is also a symbol of the ethereal and changeable in our world.
Frei Otto was an architect, an idealist and a dreamer. In an interview in 2003, he said, “I have a dream to gather a new and open society in a light and flexible building. I have never been interested in eternity.”
Although he was completely uninterested in eternity, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2005. Nevertheless, Otto—who received the Pritzker Architecture Prize one day after his death in 2015—left his name and spirit in the history of architecture for eternity.
像每個小孩一樣我第一次看到馬戲團興奮得不得了。除了有搞笑片段, 空中飛人一直是讓我又愛又恐懼的部份。愛看空中表演者在帳棚高處飛來飛去, 挑戰地心引力, 卻又怕看到有人出意外。馬戲團的大帳篷到處隨著演出的地方移動, 這個暫時性的空間可以隨著需要到處遷徙。遊牧民族因為生活型態需要, 以天地為家, 逐牧草而息。人類用最簡單的方式發展出非常有彈性的居住方式, 例如梯皮(Tipi,一種圓錐狀體的帳篷 )或蒙古包。當居住者或部落決定遷移時, 它可以迅速地被拆卸並攜帶走, 當決定定居時, 它也可以很快得被組裝起來。
在德國慕尼黑有世界有名的大帳篷。沒錯, 每年秋天啤酒節都舉辦在大帳篷中! 短短2周最大的的全民派對就在很快組裝及拆卸的大帳篷中舉行。這也是為何短暫大型活動時會使用帳篷這種輕建築構造來容納眾多的人數。
其實慕尼黑還有幾個很驚人的帳篷, 尤其是1972年夏季奧林匹克運動會的體育場頂蓋, 以頗具革命性的帳篷式屋頂結構聞名。它的建築設計師弗萊·奧圖 (Frei Otto) 專門從事輕量的抗拉式結構，為結構數學與民用工程開拓出新的一頁。早年時他在柏林工業大學修讀建築學, 卻在二戰時期被納粹空軍徵入，擔任戰鬥機飛行員。後來他遭到俘虜，被拘禁於戰俘營。此期間的奧圖與一位航空工程師學藝，但他們缺乏材料與急需住處，因此他們建了一個帳篷作為臨時住宿。
1952年，奧托於德國開設了自己的建築事務所，開始長期的建築和研究生涯。1964年，奧托於斯圖加特大學創立了研究輕形結構的研究院，並擔任該研究院的教授直至他退休為止。他熱愛研究, 很多他的張拉式結構研究項目或造型豐富的模型對當時的科技來說很難建造出來, 所以和其他建築師相對比較下實現的作品較少。他的主要作品包括1967年加拿大蒙特利爾世界博覽會西德館與1972年夏季奧林匹克運動會的主場館。
體育場的建築團隊由來自斯圖加特的建築師岡特·拜尼士（Günter Behnisch）擔任總設計師。他們與弗萊·奧圖共同擬定了建築要與自然風景融為一體，並且能與環境規劃師金特·格里茲梅克（Günther Grzimek）提出的地區規劃協調一致的方針。體育場看台的2/3建在地表之下，只有1/3建在地表上，並以蜿蜒的奧林匹克湖為背景。其頂棚由奧圖設計為半透明的帳篷形狀，呈圓錐形，由網索鋼纜組成。每一網格為75×75公分，網索屋頂鑲嵌淺灰棕色丙烯塑料玻璃，用橡膠將玻璃卡在鋁框中，使覆蓋部分裡面光線充足而且柔和，把球場、看台、進場路線以及整個奧林匹克公園聯繫在一起。這個表現力強的設計效仿了阿爾卑斯山的形態並且有意與1936年納粹德國政府掌權期間的柏林奧運會相區分。透明的巨大體育場頂棚，象徵着一個新興、民主和樂觀的德國。帳棚式的設計也是象徵世界的過眼煙雲及反復無常。
弗萊·奧圖是建築師, 理想主義者也是夢想家。他在2003年的一個訪問中說: 「我有一個夢, 能在一個輕巧有彈性的建築物中雲集一個全新開放的社會。我對永恆從來沒有興趣。」
雖然弗萊·奧圖對永恆完全沒興趣, 在2005年時他得到英國皇家建築師協會頒發的皇家金獎章。2015年過世後一天弗萊·奧圖得到普利茲克建築獎, 在建築史上永恆留下他的名字和精神。