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Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies by Michael Weinstock, Achim Menges, Michael Hensel

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Frei Otto, Multihalle Mannheim, Germany, 1975.

Frei Otto has been an architect for five decades, and his pioneering work is noted for construction innovations in many materials and building forms. Here, in conversation with the Emergence and Design Group, he discusses the development of form-finding techniques. This is one significant aspect of his interest in natural systems, in the relation of experimental models to geometry and in iterative mathematics. He concludes with a commentary on the contribution of irregularity to the strength in biological and architectural structures, and the proposal that to understand living nature is an important task for the future.

‘A technician observing living nature just cannot grasp living objects which die so quickly, are so sensitive, so complex and both so unimitable and strange. A biologist looking on technology sees how imperfect technical activity is. Both recognise today that technical and biological objects will never be the only optima which can be thought of, but only short-term stations in a flow of unique biological-technical developments without a recognisable target.’1

Frei Otto’s innovative and prolific research includes a broad range of studies in nature as a source for architectural and engineering design, and is always directed ...

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