“One needs to think,
explore, develop, invent,
and venture more …”

Frei Otto

Daniel Lukac


The Multihalle pavilion was built as a temporary structure in Mannheim’s Herzogenriedpark, for the German National Garden Show (Bundesgartenschau) of 1975. It was designed by the architect Frei Otto in cooperation with Mannheim’s Carlfried Mutschler.

Frei Otto was posthumously awarded the Pritzker Prize, the highest award in the field of architecture, in 2015. He is known for his organic structural designs, such as the roof of the Olympic site in Munich, which he realised for the 1972 Olympics together with the agency Günther Behnisch and Partners.

Otto’s Multihalle project signified a completely new approach to roof construction at the time. A filigree lattice structure spans various spaces: a self-contained function room (the main hall), walkways and open spaces, and various operating facilities. This timber grid shell roof – still the largest of its kind in the world – contains no right angles and moulds into the park landscape in a biomorphic way. Otto’s design is not only a structural and architectural tour de force, but also an expression of his pursuit of new, more open, ‘freer’ building formats in the 1970s. It was not without reason that Manfred Sack, architecture critic of the ZEIT newspaper, called the Multihalle ‘the Wonder of Mannheim’, in 1975.

In 1978 the Multihalle won the Hugo Häring Prize, the most important architecture prize in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and one that has been granted for only eight other buildings in Mannheim since it was first awarded in 1969. Remarkably, heritage protection was already considered back in 1979, but listed building status for the timber grid shell construction was only conferred in 1998. Mannheim’s Multihalle is one of Germany’s youngest listed buildings.

Virtual tour through the Multihalle

Urban Thinkers Campus

From 18 – 21 October 2017, students and professors from seven regional institutes met up with local protagonists at an ‘urban thinkers camp’, to discuss the development of the Multihalle as a ‘thinking space for future-oriented topics’ and neighbourhood hub. The camp was moderated by Sally Below, urbanist and strategic supporter of the Multihalle development project, and Wulf Kramer from Mannheim agency Yalla Yalla…

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DAM Architectural Book Award 2017 –
Frei Otto. Thinking by Modeling

Publishing House: Spector Books, Leipzig

The year 2017 saw the ninth presentation of the International DAM Architectural Book Award, by the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Museum of Architecture (Deutsches Architekturmuseum, DAM). This unique and highly respected prize honours the year’s best books on architecture.

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Future prospects:
The utilisation workshop

In the spring of 2017, representatives from various sectors were invited to a two-day utilisation workshop, initiated by the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Architects and conducted in cooperation with the city of Mannheim, to work out ideas and solutions for possible future uses. …

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Frei Otto
Pritzker Prize Winner 2015

In 2015, Frei Otto was posthumously awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which has been bestowed on outstanding architects since 1979. …

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The Architects:
Frei Otto and Carlfried Mutschler

The Multihalle is a joint project by Frei Otto and Carlfried Mutschler. Mutschler and his agency Carlfried Mutschler + Partner were commissioned with the overall design of the park for the Bundesgartenschau 1975 (German National Garden Show), together with landscape gardener Heinz H. Eckebrecht. …

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The significance for Mannheim

Besides its technical engineering and pioneering position in architectural history, the Multihalle also had major implications for Mannheim’s urban development. The focus of the Bundesgartenschau (German National Garden Show) of 1975 marked a characteristic point in Mannheim’s evolution…

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The maintenance challenge

An expert opinion conducted in 2015 revealed that around €11.5 million would be needed to maintain the Multihalle on a long-term basis. The entire roof construction needs to be renovated: …

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The ‘Wonder of Mannheim’?

The Multihalle consists of two shells that are connected via a canopied walkway. The entire structure measures 160 x 115 metres. The highest dome point is 20 m above the ground. Its widest span is 60 m, its longest is 85 m. …

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