Great achievements.


Curt Siegel (1911-2004), professor of statics and structural design at the faculty of architecture between 1950 and 1970, widened the spectrum of that discipline by introducing a systematic classification of loadbearing structures as an additional topic of his lectures and as a new field of building sciences. Siegel called this new field, which joins together static analysis of structures and structural forms, “Tragwerklehre.” This can be translated as “teaching on structures” or the translation of statics and materials science into physical objects. In 1957, together with Fritz Leonhardt (see more below), who was then the chair of concrete structures at the faculty of civil engineering, Siegel organized design projects for students of architecture and structural engineering. Leonhardt recognized that Siegel’s approach to “teaching on structures” was instructive not only to architecture students but also structural engineering students, so he was instrumental in ensuring that it became part of the engineering curriculum, as well. Around this time, Leonhardt and Siegel fostered the appointment of Frei Otto (see more below) as the chair of lightweight structures and the foundation of a connected institute that conducted research on related subjects, which later became famous as the “Institute for Lightweight Structures” (IL). Frei Otto is an architect with a deep understanding of all things related to structures, structural forms, and development of structures in nature as well as in engineering. He specialized in design of tents and cable-net structures, and had already established a research laboratory for lightweight structures in Berlin. These individuals formed the “critical mass” needed to extend the type of research conducted on the basics of structures, lightweight structures, structural detailing, and natural structures for which the Stuttgart School became famous. In 1969, Frei Otto and Fritz Leonhardt were initiators and founders of the first special research group, SFB 64, which conducted research on longspan structures at the faculties of architecture and civil engineering and was funded by the DFG (the German Research Foundation). This research group attracted many ambitious young engineers and architects. It also developed the scientific groundwork for one of the most challenging projects planned for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich – the stadium buildings designed as a “landscape of tents” and built of cable-net structures by Günther Behnisch (b.1922) and Frei Otto. It was also one of Jörg Schlaich’s (see more below) early outstanding projects. Schlaich later became well-known in his own right as a representative of the Stuttgart School, first while working at Leonhardt’s office and then with his own practice. This, then, is how the School began and developed as a collective project. To understand it better, we need to turn to the individual work of these founding members.