Author Archives: Jacob Klapper

Final_Jacob Klapper

P2C – Jacob Klapper

Frei Otto is an architect who decided to experiment with a new urban form and in a way pioneered parametric design. In his study he determined the urban landscape was made up of settlements and the paths connecting them. Otto wool-thread experiment was to find the ideal solution that might form when all the paths to all the points are forced to merge together. The resulting paths from the experiment reduce the overall length of the path system but leaving enough paths to give each point a relatively direct route to each other point. This simulation can provide divisions for a parametrically designed city and creates an endless amount of flexibility to the divisions as the simulation can be run multiple times to produce a different pattern as there is not one ideal solution. It can also adapt across time as the points used to calculate the paths change. If the simulation is run again it will reflect these changes as opposed to a traditional city grid that is static and unchanging.

Zaha Hadid Architect’s Kartal-Pendik Masterplan for Istanbul uses a technique similar to Frei Otto by using the Maya hair dynamic tool to create pathways for their site. Since the site sits between two existing urban fabrics, the major parameter driving the paths was incoming circulation from them. The resulting grid provides parcels of different size, which the architects then decided to use to drive building size, and major paths that would connect the two parts of the city in an ideal fashion.

Zaha Hadid Archiects, Kartal-Pendik Masterplan, Istanbul, Turkey, 2006

I used the idea of the path simulation to determine the best location for my hotel on the Cincinnati riverfront site. Major pathways were put through the site, connecting points people wanted to travel to. The resulting divisions provided parcels to choose from. The site I chose for the hotel was along two major pathways through the site allowing it to receive as much exposure it could from people passing through the site.

Otto’s simulation can tell us about the ideal street grid but it also had influence on the smaller scale of individual buildings. Manuel Delanda compares the way architects can find the ideal design of a building to evolution and breeding of species to get desired traits. The Galapagos function in Grasshopper for Rhino is one such genetic algorithm, which can be used to find the ideal form of the building based on several parameters. It slightly changes the form of the building to find a solution based on specified parameters and it will continue to test other arrangements and will always display the best solution discovered so far. Like the wool-thread simulation, the calculation can be run again to find a different yet completely valid result

In the case of the hotel a parameter can be put in to determine the size of the building based on its needs throughout time. The hotel might have a busy season where more guest rooms are required but then need to be removed when they are not needed. The number of guests can be a variable in the Galapagos calculation so it can recalculate the space to its proper size based on this. A module can also be developed for the building that can be scaled by the Galapagos function based on the purpose of the space. For example a public event space will require the module to be larger than a private office but each still uses the basic architectural element. I will then translate the modular component into the city scale. Such modules will also be scaled based on their use. Residential units will be smaller than institutional units but both would use the same initial module. This will give people a sense of the function of a building based on how large they perceive it.

The fabric structure is ideal for an adaptable and variable architecture as it is a material that is relatively easy to set up, take down, move, and form into the desired shape. The incorporation into the hotel allows for the possibility of expansion and introduction of spaces that were not initially conceived at the time of design in a quick and affordable way.


Patrik Schumacher, Parametricism – A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design

Manuel Delanda, “Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture”

P2B – Jacob Klapper

P2 – Jacob Klapper

P1E_Jacob Klapper_Schematic

P1C_Jacob Klapper


P1_Jacob Klapper Munich Olympic Stadium

Architect: Frei Otto and Gunther Behnisch
Location: Munich, Germany
Project Year: 1968 -1972

Designed by the German architect Günther Behnisch and the engineer Frei Otto, the Olympiastadion was considered revolutionary for its time. This included large sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by steel cables that were used for the first time on a large scale.

Otto and Behnisch took the second Olympics games in Germany as an opportunity and a second chance to show Germany in a new light.  Their goal was to design a structure that would emulate the games motto: “The Happy Games” as more of a whimsical architectural response that would overshadow the heavy, authoritarian stadium in Berlin.

Otto and Behnisch conceptualized a sweeping tensile structure that would flow continuously over the site imitating the draping and rhythmic protrusions of the Swiss Alps.  The result is a suspended cloud-like structure that appears to be floating over the site branching in between the natatorium, gymnasium, and the main stadium.

The continuous tensile surface that bridges all of the main buildings of the Olympic Games is subject to a hierarchical structural system that creates a series of volumes across the site.  The canopies membrane is suspended from a multitude of vertical masts that allow for the dramatic draping curves of the surface to flow dynamically across the site changing form, scale, and sectional characteristics.  The large canopies are stabilized laterally through a network of smaller cables that attach to a larger steel cable extending over the entire span into concrete footings at either end.

For such an expansive site, the minimal structural components work to create the dynamic sweeping surfaces that are created by various tensile connections resulting in an undulating mesh.  As the system works its way across the artificial landscape toward the main stadium, which was built in a crater from the bombings of WWII, the membrane begins to compress as it fades around the stadium.  The dramatic shift in scales of coverage heightens the perception of the floating artificial landscape that forms out of the ground to create large open span volumes only to integrate back into the ground.

In addition to its “connection” to the landscape, the acrylic glass panels that clad the tensile membrane establish a relationship to its context and the light exposure that it experiences.  The acrylic panels shimmer in the sunlight, reflecting the light, the color of the sky, and the surrounding landscape.  When illuminated, the suspended membrane appears as a cloud formation swarming over the site.

Due to Otto’s precise calculations the entire structural and membrane system was constructed off site.  The high precision allowed for a simple assembly to one of the world’s most innovative and complex structural systems that have worked solely on the premise of tension.