The history of tensile structures and their origins date back even to the ice age.
It is said that at that time the nomads were the ones who built the first structures to make their shelters with animal skins, branches and even leaves.
On the other hand, the “teepees” that the Native Americans built are also an example of the ancestors of the membrane lightweight structures and are still admired today for their structural design.
From the 20th century there were other ancestors of the membrane lightweight structures that continue to be built to date: the circus tents.
But in addition to circuses, there were also other tensed structures in different countries throughout history. Some examples are the shops of the tianguis or markets, which were very popular for several decades in places like Mexico and Morocco.
Tense structures have evolved throughout history thanks to the same evolution of the materials and technology with which they are manufactured.
However, the one who revolutionized the history of tensile structures was the German architect Frei Otto.
Otto studied soap bubbles and branch systems, among other structures in nature, and was inspired by these to lay the foundations for light architecture.
The German architect found that nature creates very efficient forms and that they use the minimum of material.
He founded the Institute for Light Structures at the University of Stuttgart in Germany in the 1960s and in 1967 developed his first large-scale tensile structure for the German Pavilion at the Montreal Exposition.
However, the most significant work of the pioneer of tensile structures is the roof he made for the Munich Olympic Stadium.
From Otto’s works and research, textile architecture began to gain more spaces and tensile structures are increasingly present in architectural projects.
From Otto’s works and research, textile architecture began to gain more spaces and tense structures are increasingly present in architectural projects.