Praemium Imperiale 2006


Frei Otto

Beginning with the RIBA Gold Medal in 2005, the succession of distinctions and acknowledgements bestowed on this 81 year old German architect throughout his career continues this year with the Praemium Imperiale, awarded by the Japan Art Association. After World War II, during which he was a pilot, Otto studied in both Berlin and Virginia. In the United States he met figures such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen and Mies van de Rohe, who would later have a strong influence on his work. In 1964 he began teaching at the University of Stuttgart, where that same year he founded the Institute for Light Structures. It was here that he embarked on interdisciplinary research with physicists and biologists to infer the optimum relationship between engineering and architecture, form and function. An intense observation of nature, in addition to distinct experiments with soap, soon produced pieces such as the German Pavilion for the Montreal World Expo of 1967 and the roof of the Munich Olympic Stadium in 1972. His recent projects include his collaboration with Shigeru Ban for the Japanese Pavilion at the Hannover Exposition of 2000.

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