Tensile Membrane Architecture

Tensile Membrane Architecture

The field of tensile architecture draws from broader engineering disciplines like civil, architectural and mechanical, but it’s a speciality not covered in any depth by conventional engineering programs. In fact there are only two schools in the world offering postgraduate degrees in tensile archicture – one is in Germany, one in Austria.

I (Aaron) am pursuing a Master of Engineering in Lightweight Membrane Structures at Danube University in Krems, Austria. The cynic responds, “Austria? Right.. you couldn’t find one in Albuquerque?”, to which I answer, quite seriously, no. It doesn’t exist in the US, so I go to what is arguably the Mecca of membrane structures and learn from the pioneers and some of the best in the field.

It just happens to be located at a university in a quaint thousand year old village in Lower Austria, just east of Vienna. 20 students from 14 countries convene several times a year for onsite studies with membrane scholars and professionals. Between sessions we’re working in the field, and feverishly writing theses to contribute something new to the membrane industry. It’s a challenging course of study.

Because it’s in Europe, we visit some of the early classics. The visionary Frei Otto is an iconic German Archictect and engineer who arguably launched the industry in the 1960’s with his daring design of the cable net 1972 olympic stadium – the 750,000 square foot project for which he’s best known. We walked the structure and reviewed the massive engineering effort up close. Though Otto died in 2015, three of our adjunct professors worked closely with him at the Institute for Lightweight Structures at the University of Stuttgart

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.