butter paper australasia : greaseproof architecture links 2000 - 2022

Frei Otto - Conversations

Juan Maria Songel (Editor)
Princeton University Press 2010, 96 pages, paperback.
$US15.56 at Amazon.

A small book with a selected series of interviews with German structural engineer Frei Otto over the last 15 years or so. The topics range from discussions on the interrelationship of architecture and engineering, though to the inability to measure stress in masonry buildings, once they are built. Varied.

Of the academies he has not too much respect:

“Surprisingly, many architects and engineers are self-taught, even if they were exposed in their youth to academic studies and to the dangers of receiving inadequate design education. The greatest danger of teaching design is to bury talent through the teaching of false prophets, though scientifically untenable theories, through the imposition of subjective thought models, through moral pressures to specific formal concepts, or through the discouragement of attempts to materialise visions. Our best students search for their own path and persevere despite the inevitable conflicts with their professors.”

On stability:

“In principle, every building is unstable; all architecture tries to do is to temporarily make stable what in principle is unstable.”


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Frei Otto conversations