on the occasion of the venice architecture biennalethe saai at karlsruhe institute of technology presents sleeping beauty, an exhibition dedicated to frei otto‘s largest timber lattice shell structure to date. following a previous exhibition on the architect’s body of work, curators sally below and prof. dr. georg vrachliotis focus on the multihalle and its experimental history, as well as its upcoming future. 

all images courtesy of cristobal palma unless stated otherwise



organized by saai and designed by FAR, an architecture firm led by marc frohn and mario rojas, the exhibition offers visitors a double view of the frei otto and carlfried mutschler structurelooking back at the past through original material, it highlights the building’s experimental history and illustrates how it represents an ‘open space’ for an ‘open society’ through its spatial qualities and integration into the urban topography and its greenery. most importantly, ‘sleeping beauty’ looks towards the future, as the city of mannheim is working with a dedicated group of artists, architects, local residents, citizens, engineers, and universities on a new sustainable concept to ensure the multihalle’s long-term preservation. 

image © designboom



the exhibition title nods to the process of reinventing the use of the structure, following a period of standstill. originally planned as a temporary building for the 1975 bundesgartenschau (federal garden exhibition) in mannheim, germany, the multihalle still stands as the largest timber gridshell structure in the world to date, 40 years after its construction. 

taking place at a portside building on the island of guidecca, the exhibition introduces the multihalle and its future prospects to an international scene.
image © designboom

entrance to the exhibition

image © designboom

image © designboom

concept sketch with variations of the originally planned ballon roofs, 1970

image © designboom

exhibition opening in giudecca, venice – huge balloons mark the spot

photo by christoph engel


exhibition info: 


curators: sally below and prof. dr. georg vrachliotis

exhibition architecture: prof. marc frohn, KIT institute of architectural design, art, and theory, FAR frohn&rojas

event organizer: saai | archive for architecture and engineering, karlsruhe institute of technology

patrons: city of mannheim, commissioner for building culture, tatjana dürr




venice architecture biennale golden lion

designboom’s coverage of the 2018 venice architecture biennale is in partnership with leading energy company edison. edison is taking part in the 16th international architecture exhibition of la biennale di venezia by initiating a path towards sustainability and the efficient use of resources. the collaboration between edison and la biennale is based on awareness that energy is one of the fundamental elements of architecture and of the places, spaces and cities of contemporary life.

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