The History of World Expositions
[All World Expositions]
[Home(EXPO 2000)]



Up to now there had never been a tent as an exhibition building at a world exhibition. Yet this form of construction, being a light, easy to assemble structure that can be shaped as desired, was an obvious choice for the purposes of temporary exhibitions. In 1965,a jury chaired by Egon Eiermann, who had been responsible for the German pavilion in Brussels in 1958, selected a design for the German contribution in Montreal by Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod which met these requirements ideally.

8,000 square meters had to be covered at the tip of Notre-Dame island. Otto and Gutbrod laid a steel wire net over eight to 38 meter high masts. The net was drawn down to the ground at three points in order to drain off rainwater. The result was a freely contoured roof landscape with dynamic and elegant curves which followed the lines of force - this was the direct predecessor to the roofs of the Olympic stadia in Munich in 1972. The structure was stabilized by 30 side cables which conducted the tensile forces by means of loops into solid concrete foundations designed like sculptures. The meshes of the net, which was completely produced in Germany and tentered on site, measured 50 centimeters square, meaning that it could be climbed on comfortably during assembly. Underneath it, a membrane of PVC-coated, partly transparent, partly translucent polyester fabric was stretched by means of trefoil disks. Numerous model experiments and computer calculations were required to estimate the stresses and forces arising with this innovative structure. Yet Frei Otto saw this design as only a precursor to larger projects. His contact architect in Canada spread the story to journalists that Otto wanted to cover two valleys in Switzerland with his tents.

The spatial impression in the interior of the pavilion was naturally defined by the unusual roof landscape. The sweeps and steep curves of the white skin removed all sense of distance and scale. Otto and Gutbrod had originally planned to insert a green park landscape under the tent in order to be able to cope with the problem of air conditioning more easily. However, all that remained of this were a few areas of water; in addition, the canvas could be folded up at the edges in order to air the tent.

An independent architecture consisting of platforms, footways, stairs and closed cubes of steel trelliswork had to be built for the exhibits. The rigid rectangular shapes stood in deliberate contrast to the tented roof and gave visitors free, undirected access to the exhibition. However, the space proved too large for the exhibits, whose presentation was entrusted to no less than twelve designers. As a result, photo cubes, bubble-shaped slide projections, poster pillars and semitransparent suspended billboard competed for the attention of visitors. Many small, highly appealing details and exhibits, ranging from Lufthansa cutlery to Gutenberg's printing press, had to be presented all too lavishly; what was missing was a coordinator who could have created an exhibition concept to go with the bold outer form.

deutsch | english
1851 | 1862 | 1867 | 1873 | 1876 | 1889 | 1893 | 1900 | 1904 | 1929 |
1933 | 1937 | 1939 | 1958 | 1962 | 1967 | 1970 | 1992 | 1998 | 2000
The Montreal World Exposition 1967
The German pavilion of Frei Otto
Year: 1967City: MontrealCountry: Canada
Duration: 28th April - 27th October 1967



Printversion - Click Here