PORTABLE
ARCHITECTURE
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PORTABLE
ARCHITECTURE
Third edition
Robert Kronenburg
Elsevier/Architectural Press
Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP
200 Wheeler Road, Burlington, MA 01803
First publi...
Preface to the First Edition vi
Preface to the Second Edition viii
Preface to the Third Edition ix
Illustration Acknowledg...
11 Eduard Böhtlingk Young Dutch Architects Biennial Exhibition, 1985 161
Markies Trailer, 1986-95
Spotter, 2000
Mobile Uni...
My earlier book in this field (Houses in Motion: The
Genesis, History and Development of the Portable
Building, London: Ac...
Most people, at least initially, think of the portable
building as just a caravan or perhaps as the ubiqui-
tous site cabi...
This third edition of Portable Architecture is published
at a time when interest in the potential of practical
temporary a...
Front cover
Bottom left and detail (background image): Airtecture Air
Hall © Festo Corporate Design
Bottom right: Powerhou...
I
Portable buildings have been in use since
humankind first began to build, yet because of their
impermanent nature it is ...
longer period. These three basic strategies can be
used with many alternative constructional systems
that incorporate pane...
Each project was studied within a common
framework of forty separate questions that investi-
gated issues such as briefing...
that are examined. However, it should be noted
that although these divisions are convenient groups
in which to examine and...
The TAG McLaren’s Team Communications
Centre is a new case study for this edition. This
remarkable project maintains the i...
presence. These event structures utilise construc-
tional methods and logistical arrangements not
normally seen in the bui...
Partnership. Though they are now separate organi-
zations, Buro Happold and FTL were for some years
engaged in a transatla...
Also inspired by industrial products and the
logistics is the work of New York design firm LOT-
EK. Italian architects Giu...
Introduction 9
Figure I.8 LOT-EK’s Mobile Dwelling Unit – the basic module is designed around the limitations of a standar...
10 Portable Architecture
Figure I.10 Klein-Dytham’s Pika-Pika Pretzel hoarding in Tokyo.
workshop and delivered to site and commissioned
within twenty-four hours, the building was
removed after three months and ...
eye-catching imagery. In a country where urban
land values are so high that the building can
become a relatively small par...
stage with amplification and lighting rigs that
spanned across the entire 45-metre width of a
football field in 4.5 minute...
Though not usually as extreme as this, most
portable structures demand easy assembly and
disassembly and this results in t...
Introduction 15
Figure I.15
The ‘Progressive Architecture’
house designed by Abacus
architects, Boston, 1992. This
competi...
has also been considerable recent interest in the UK
regarding the potential of prefabricated techniques
to solve the para...
and a personal collection of the artist’s objects.
Their desirability and completeness in containing
all the services and ...
because of the pneumatic pressures on the unsup-
ported PVC; however, the combinations and size of
the shapes can have gre...
III
Portable architecture should not be seen as some
unique hybrid manifestation, part way between
transport and building ...
stability and continuity that is required. All
portable buildings should therefore be judged by
the same criteria as other...
Introduction 21
Figure I.22 The Communicator, Apicella Associates and Atelier One – a portable events and presentation fac...
22 Portable Architecture
Figure I.24 FTL Design Engineering Studio’s ‘Machine Tent’ for Harley Davidson’s Travelling Tour,...
Introduction23
Figure I.26 The ‘Machine Tent’ erection process
set up not only in the US but in Tokyo, Sydney,
Cologne, Mexico City, Vancouver and Barcelona.
The challenge was not only ...
that is conducive to teaching, capable of quick and
easy deployment, and costs less than the inadequate
structures current...
Most of the buildings described here have been
commissioned by clients who are unsure what they
actually want, though they...
increased performance and longer life can be
expected from the new range of membranes but
also because of the relative eas...
Another project by LSU is a mobile canopy
system designed in collaboration with Arena
Seating, the UK’s leading supplier o...
have been forced to use more prosaic methods –
plywood, standard steel sections, rope, canvas, etc.
Sometimes they perceiv...
arrival as they transform from vehicle to building
is utilised to engage the children’s interest. From a
closed-in lorry s...
skills such as plumbing, painting, carpentry,
plastering and electrical installation. One side of
the large 20-metre long ...
backed the Millennium Experience project they had
inherited, but also underlined its value as an urban
regenerator for the...
because they are kept to the most economic size,
the distant ones have the visual presence of knots
in fine twine. The mai...
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  • 1. PORTABLE ARCHITECTURE
  • 2. This Page Intentionally Left Blank
  • 3. PORTABLE ARCHITECTURE Third edition Robert Kronenburg
  • 4. Elsevier/Architectural Press Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP 200 Wheeler Road, Burlington, MA 01803 First published 1996 Second edition 2000 Third edition 2003 Copyright © 2003, Robert Kronenburg. All rights reserved The right of Robert Kronenburg to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright holder except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London, England W1T 4LP. Applications for the copyright holder's written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publishers British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 0 7506 56530 For information on all Architectural Press publications visit our website at www/architecturalpress/com Typeset by Genesis Typesetting Ltd Printed and bound in Great Britain
  • 5. Preface to the First Edition vi Preface to the Second Edition viii Preface to the Third Edition ix Illustration Acknowledgements x Introduction 1 CASE STUDIES PART I Role Models 1 Renzo Piano Building Workshop IBM Pavilion, Shunji Ishida, Europe, 1982-1985 39 2 Tadao Ando Karaza Theatre, Japan, 1987-1988 51 3 Future Systems MoMI Hospitality Pavilion, London, UK, 1993 61 4 Festo Airtecture Air Hall, 1996-1999 71 Airquarium, 2000-2001 5 TAG McLaren West McLaren Mercedes Team Communications Centre, 2002 85 PART II Problem Solvers 6 Lorenzo Apicella TSB Pavilion, UK, 1991 99 Hong Kong Tourist Association Pavilion, Europe, 1995 Volvo Car Marketing Units, UK, 1997 7 Alec French Partnership Bristol Development Corporation Marketing 117 Centre, Bristol, UK, 1992 8 Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners IGUS factory, Cologne, Germany, 1992-2001 125 9 Buro Happold Antarctic Survival Tent, 1985 137 MEC Arena, UK, 1990 RSSB Shelter, UK, 1994 10 Branson Coates Powerhouse::UK, 1998 149 Contents
  • 6. 11 Eduard Böhtlingk Young Dutch Architects Biennial Exhibition, 1985 161 Markies Trailer, 1986-95 Spotter, 2000 Mobile Unity, 2002 PART III Specialists 12 FTL Design Engineering Studio Carlos Moseley Music Pavilion, New York, USA, 1991 175 Cadillac Theatre, Detroit, USA, 1995 TME/LANMaS, USA, 1993-1995 AT&T Global Olympic Village, Atlanta, USA, 1996 13 Mark Fisher Rolling Stones Steel Wheels/Voodoo Lounge 201 tour sets, 1989-1995 Pink Floyd Division Bell tour set, 1993-1994 U2 Popmart tour set, 1997-1998 Rolling Stones, Bridges to Babylon set, 1997-1999 14 Maurice Agis Colourspace, 1970-1995 229 Dreamspace, 1996-2003 15 NASA Lunar Outpost project,1990-1995 241 NASA TransHAB, 1997-2004 16 Weatherspace Resources Ltd. BHP Diamond Mine Camp, N.W. Territories, Canada, 1993 259 Selected Bibliography 267 Index 271 vi Contents
  • 7. My earlier book in this field (Houses in Motion: The Genesis, History and Development of the Portable Building, London: Academy, 1995) was an attempt to identify the various diverse forms of transportable architecture and place them in context together for the first time. Whilst engaged in that research it became clear to me that within the history of archi- tecture there was a prodigious variety of portable buildings and the first publication would need to be a foundation for further study rather than a detailed examination of specific types. The book was there- fore designed as a historic survey which gathered together examples that expressed the philosophical and pragmatic issues which relate to portable build- ings. In addition to that work, a detailed study and comparison of significant contemporary examples would be necessary in order to establish the crucial characteristics of portable architecture that have particular relevance today. In a built environment that is now affected more and more by rapid and dramatic change, ecological considerations, and social and cultural impact, a form of architecture that is flexible, lightweight in construction, has minimal impact on sensitive sites, and is responsive to new technological and aesthetic opportunities has great value. The intention of this study is there- fore to place examples of good portable architectural design in context with each other, examine the common elements that have led to their creation, and thereby discover the factors that have been critical to their success. Analysis of these factors will be of interest to those involved in the design and manufacture of buildings (not necessarily all of which are portable) where similar issues are impor- tant. It may also result in further work that identi- fies valuable directions for future building projects and architectural research. The projects described here dispel preconceptions that mobile buildings are mainly low-cost, short-life products and confirm that the building type is an important part of mainstream architectural development. All the teams involved in the design, manufac- ture and construction of the projects examined in this study have been generous in the time they have given, and the resources and information they have made available. Without their help it would not have been possible and I thank them all, especially Maurice Agis, Lorenzo Apicella, Mark Bryden, Mark Fisher, Nicholas Goldsmith, Kriss Kennedy, David Mellor and Paul Westbury. I would also like to thank the Building Centre Trust for their support during this research project, and Michael Gittoes, Chris Grech and Neil Warnock-Smith for their help and advice on content and publication. Robert Kronenburg University of Liverpool, 1995 Preface to the First Edition
  • 8. Most people, at least initially, think of the portable building as just a caravan or perhaps as the ubiqui- tous site cabin. The 1997 exhibitions, Portable Architecture (held at the Royal Institute of British Architects Architecture Centre, London) and Spontaneous Construction (held at the Building Centre, London) set out to dispel this misconcep- tion and the feedback I received as curator unani- mously supported the view that they achieved this objective. The Portable Architecture exhibition was the most successful ever held at the RIBA Architecture Centre, with more visitors than any previous public event held at Portland Place. Unusual for an event held at the Institute, a large proportion of these visitors were not architects. The exhibition was widely reported in newspapers, the Sunday supplements, on radio and on television. Lifestyle sections carried features on inflatable furniture, temporary gardens, homes in trailers and barges. Architecture, at least for a time, once more became a part of pop culture – instant, available and fun. Comparisons were made with Archigram and the counter-culture ideas of the 1960s, however, this time it was different; instead of propositions the interest was aroused by real physi- cal buildings and environments, erected by hard- headed businesses for commercial purposes. Simultaneously with the exhibition the first inter- national conference on portable architecture was held at the RIBA, resulting in the publication of the proceedings in the following year. Though the effect of the summer’s events were to some degree undoubtedly ephemeral (which is appropriate considering the nature of the exhibits), the readi- ness of the public to embrace the idea of portable architecture is significant and supports the notion that architecture can be movable and still be archi- tecture. In the first edition of this book I stressed my conviction that portable architecture is a part of all mainstream architecture. The circumstances surrounding the work of the two new designers featured in this edition provide conflicting indica- tions about how much closer this idea has moved towards general acceptance. Powerhouse::UK by Branson Coates was the first major public building to be commissioned and completed by the new British government elected in May 1997. This would suggest that, at least in some official sense, the image of a provocative temporary building is not in conflict with the aspirations of quality and constance. However, the ‘Airtecture’ hall by Festo, a truly innovative building in many ways, has hardly been reported in the mainstream architec- tural press at all, though it has won many indus- trial design awards and been celebrated in dozens of specialist industrial and manufacturing journals. The purpose of this second edition of Portable Architecture is therefore the same as the first – to show that such buildings are eminently feasible, capable of a wide range of roles, and economic to build and operate. They can also be subversive as well as sensitive, amusing as well as appropriate, energetic as well as economic. All the case studies of the first edition remain, for the reasons they were originally included still hold true. Where design developments have continued I have added new information to these studies. New projects by previously profiled design teams have been included on the basis that they add something new in the way they have been designed, built or operated. I have not included projects built since the first edition which use strategies that I have previously examined; similarly, projects that have had their design, commissioning and construction explained in detail elsewhere are not covered here. Once more I must thank those who have helped in providing resources and information on the new projects included in this edition, in partic- ular Maurice Agis, Lorenzo Apicella, Doug Branson, Nigel Coates, Todd Dalland, Mark Fisher, Nicholas Goldsmith, Kriss Kennedy and Axel Thallemer. I would also like to thank Marie Milmore of the Architectural Press for bringing what was originally envisaged as a reprinting to fruition as a new expanded edition. Robert Kronenburg University of Liverpool, 1999 Preface to the Second Edition
  • 9. This third edition of Portable Architecture is published at a time when interest in the potential of practical temporary and mobile buildings has never been greater. Many exciting new examples have been built around the world and many of these have received favourable and extensive media coverage. Journals and books in many languages have been published that explore the expanding ephemeral environment – furniture, events, landscapes, as well as buildings. The general media – magazines, newspapers and television – is also exposing a new wave of innovative design to an interested public. Preparation of the second edition of this book was carried out whilst the experiences of the Portable Architecture exhibition held at the Royal Institute of British Architects Architecture Centre and the first international conference on this subject were fresh in my mind. As I write this, Transportable Environments II (R. Kronenburg, J. Lim and Wong Yunn Chi, eds, Spon Press, 2003), the proceedings from the second international conference on this subject has just gone to press, and the Vitra Design Museum's Living in Motion touring exhibition is on display at its second venue in Germany – attendance figures have broken all the museum's records and its catalogue is the fastest selling they have ever produced. Soon it will embark for Portugal, Spain, the UK and eventually the USA. Despite this wealth of new and valuable infor- mation, Portable Architecture is still the only book that takes a case study approach to the examination of these buildings, exploring in detail the strategies and tactics employed by clients, designers, and builders to achieve the objective of creating a quality mobile environment. The number of design teams whose work is examined in detail is now sixteen and for this new edition they have been organised into three thematic sections: role models, problem solvers and specialists. The two new main case studies have been chosen not only for the particularly interesting approach taken to solve their design problem but also because they concern two of the most common building functions – the dwelling and the office. Eduard Böhtlingk's 'Markies' is an exemplar of economic, rational design that simultaneously has an immense capability to capture the imagination. It explores the heritage of trailer homes, caravans and tents, and transforms it into something new and vigorous. West McLaren Mercedes' Team Communications Centre is the most sophisticated, fast-deployment, mobile struc- ture yet to emerge which still retains the imagery and reality of a real building. In addition to the case studies, the introduction has been revised and expanded to sample the growing range of projects by other contemporary designers working in the field of portable architecture and environments. These new mobile buildings are incredibly diverse in both function and solution. This work once again reinforces the fact that portable architecture can be utilised to fulfil all of the tasks that are usually demanded of static architecture and although, as with all design work, precedent is important, ingenuity and innovation are also crucial. The purpose of this third edition of Portable Architecture remains unchanged – to show that mobile buildings are feasible, are able to fulfil many differ- ent roles, and are economically viable to build and operate. New projects have only been included if they add some new innovation in the way they have been designed, built or operated. In selecting them I have excluded work which uses strategies that are already examined in equal detail elsewhere. This book would not be possible without the cooperation and generos- ity of those who have commissioned, designed and built the buildings examined in the case studies. I must therefore express my real gratitude to those who have helped with the creation of this book by giving their time and material – in particular Maurice Agis, Eduard Böhtlingk, Simon Blackmore, Neil Burford, Todd Dalland, Mark Dytham, Mark Fisher, Giuseppe Lignano, Alan Parkinson, Jennifer Siegal, the TAG McLaren Group, and Axel Thallemer. I also thank Alison Yates of the Architectural Press for helping bring this new edition to fruition and the Leverhulme Trust for a study abroad fellowship that enabled important dedicated research to be carried out. Robert Kronenburg University of Liverpool, 2003 Preface to the Third Edition
  • 10. Front cover Bottom left and detail (background image): Airtecture Air Hall © Festo Corporate Design Bottom right: Powerhouse::UK © Branson Coates Architecture Top left: Colourspace Maurice Agis © Pamela Brotons Top right: Night view of the West McLaren Mercedes Team Communications Centre © Racing Line, TAG McLaren Group official magazine Back cover Top: Superbowl 2001 © Mark Fisher Studio Bottom (four images): Markies Trailer © Eduard Böhtlingk (Figure numbers are in brackets) Abacus Architects (I.15) Alec French Partnership (7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 7.9) Apicella Associates (I.22, I.23, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.7, 6.8, 6.11, 6.12, 6.13, 6.14, 6.15, 6.16, 6.17, 6.18, 6.19, 6.20) Architects of Air, Nottingham, www.architects-of-air.com (I.19, I.20) Branson Coates Architecture (10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12, 10.13) Buro Happold (I.39, I.40, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4, 9.5, 9.6, 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, 9.10, 9.11, 9.12, 9.13) Butler Manufacturing Company (I.5) Eduard Böhtlingk (11.1, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.7, 11.8, 11.9, 11.10, 11.11, 11.12, 11.13) Festo Corporate Design (4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 4.7, 4.8, 10.14) Fotografie, Ger van der Vlught (11.2) FTL Design Engineering Studio (I.24, I.25, I.26, I.27, I.28, I.29, I.30) FTL Happold (12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.6, 12.7, 12.8, 12.9, 12.10, 12.11, 12.12, 12.13, 12.14, 12.15, 12.16, 12.19, 12.20, 12.21, 12.22, 12.25, 12.26, 12.27, 12.28, 12.29, 12.30, 12.31, 12.32, 12.33) Future Systems (3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5) Geoff Beckman (3.6, 3.7, 3.8) Edward Woodman (10.1) John Edward Linden (8.11) John Peck and Jo Reid (8.8, 8.9, 8.10) Katsuhisa Kida (I.10) Klein-Dytham Architecture (I.11, I.12) Lightweight Structures Unit, University of Dundee (I.31, I.32, I.33) Lorenzo Apicella and Neil Thomas (6.1, 6.2, 6.3) LOT-EK (I.7, I.8, I.9) Mario Botta (I.21) Mark Fisher Studio (I.13, I.14, 13.1, 13.2, 13.4, 13.5, 13.6, 13.7, 13.8, 13.9, 13.10, 13.11, 13.12, 13.13, 13.14, 13.15, 13.16, 13.17, 13.18, 13.19, 13.20, 13.21, 13.22, 13.23, 13.24, 13.25, 13.26, 13.27, 13.28, 13.29, 13.30, 13.31, 13.32) Mark Fisher & Jonathan Park (13.3) Maurice Agis (14.1, 14.2, 14.3, 14.5) Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company (I.6) Mitsuo Matsuoka (2.8, 2.9) NASA (15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, 15.6, 15.7, 15.8, 15.9, 15.10, 15.11, 15.12, 15.13, 15.14, 15.15, 15.16, 15.17, 15.18) Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners (8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.6, 8.7) Office of Mobile Design (I.34, I.35, I.36, I.37) Pamela Brotons (14.10, 14.4) Patrick Koning (I.18) Racing Line, TAG McLaren Group official magazine (5.3, 5.4, 5.11, 5.12, 5.13) Renzo Piano Building Workshop (1.1, 1.2, 1.13, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.14) Robert Kronenburg (I.1, I.2, I.3, I.4, I.38, 4.2, 4.5, 4.6, 4.9, 4.10, 4.11, 5.1, 5.2, 5.5, 5.14, 5.15, 14.6, 14.9, 16.5) Russell Organisation (6.9) SAS Foto (11.3) Simon Blackmore (I.16, I.17) Tadao Ando Architect (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7) TAG McLaren Group (5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10, 5.16) Vertigo Inc. (12.17, 12.18, 12.23, 12.24) Weatherhaven Resources Ltd (16.1, 16.2, 16.3, 16.4, 16.6, 16.7) Illustration Acknowledgements The author and publishers would like to thank those who have kindly permitted the use of images in the illustration of this book. Attempts have been made to locate all the sources of illustrations to obtain full reproduction rights, but in the very few instances where this process has failed to find the copyright holder, apologies are offered. In the case of an error, correction would be welcomed.
  • 11. I Portable buildings have been in use since humankind first began to build, yet because of their impermanent nature it is only recently that they have begun to be perceived as architecture.1 Familiar traditional building forms such as the tent, tipi and yurt utilise sophisticated constructional techniques and complex habitation patterns that have not only retained their relevance for thousands of years but are linked to some of the most sophisticated building patterns of the present day. The Bedouin tent incorporates compressive struts and tensile membranes that utilise the same principles as modern tensile engineering systems. The North American tipi can be compared to a single cell of a space frame, adapted to use membranes without inherent strength (animal hides) and incorporating twin skin systems and natural air movement patterns for environmental modification. The Asian yurt uses modular manufacturing techniques and a geodesic-based wall structure that are familiar twentieth century constructional strategies. Contemporary portable buildings have a long and interesting pedigree, which includes principles that have been adapted into permanent construction. Portable architecture consists of structures that are intended for easy erection on a site remote from their manufacture.2 The simplest strategy consists of buildings that are transported in one piece for instant use once they arrive at their location. Some incorporate their transportation method into their permanent structure and may be built on a chassis or a hull. Such buildings are generally restricted in size due to the limitations of transport.3 A more common strategy that also enables greater variety in built form is the building constructed from factory-made elements transported as a partly complete package and then quickly assembled at the site. The third type of portable building is composed of a system of modular parts that are easily transportable and usually dry assembled on site. This method allows maximum flexibility for adaptation to different layouts. However, it also usually requires a more complex assembly proce- dure carried out by a larger erection team over a Introduction Figure I.1 A mobile Chinese assault tower (after a drawing in the Gujn fusho jincheng, an encyclopedia made at the order of the emperor Kangxi)
  • 12. longer period. These three basic strategies can be used with many alternative constructional systems that incorporate panel, framed, tensile and pneumatic structural principles, sometimes in combination, to create an infinite variety of built forms. The design of portable buildings is not restricted by the lack of construction options, which enables them to range in size and complex- ity from a Portaloo to a 10,000 seat auditorium. The term ‘portable architecture’ may be used in recognition of the fact that many contemporary examples of these structures have a significant effect on the built environment. There is hardly a field of human activity that they do not support in some way – housing, education, medicine, commerce, manufacture, entertainment and military operations are a few.4 However, a common perception of the contemporary portable building is that it is primarily a standard product such as the mobile home or site hut, and its presence within the building industry is peripheral – useful in the same way as a piece of machinery or a tool. The majority of small-scale applications are commer- cially manufactured, loose-fit products, which are acquired for their speed of deployment and are not dedicated to their purpose nor tuned to the activi- ties they support. Though such standard products have their uses, they have very little in common with the ambitious projects described in this book. These use sophisticated construction technology to achieve impressive operational standards that fulfil diverse demanding functions. In these significant projects, the portability of the building has been a more important factor in the design selection than speed of deployment and sufficient lead-in time has been available for the creation of a dedicated solution. The mobile element in these projects’ design has not only been the driving force in the creation of their form and image, but also an important factor in their operational success. Precedent studies have an important part to play in the creation of a forward-looking enlight- ened architecture in that they provide a foundation of knowledge for current work, and allow successes and failures to be assessed with the benefit of hindsight. Perhaps most significantly they enable exploration of the complex relationship that exists between the overall intentions of a project and the means used in achieving them. The image, identity and aesthetic of any object may be identified as a series of abstract notions related to social condi- tions, culture and symbolism, however, its form is ultimately determined by the materials and manufacturing techniques used in its construction. Case studies are a valuable resource of first-hand experiences that quantify the physical attributes of a project by telling the story of its inception, design, manufacture, and operation. In this book there are twenty-nine case studies that describe projects by sixteen designer/constructor teams though many more are described in less detail in order to place the work in context. The projects have been selected for their diversity and the ingenuity and resourcefulness exhibited in their design – together they represent a cross-section of recent work in this area. Case studies that investi- gate failures no doubt also produce interesting information; however, I believe the task of this book is to open avenues of investigation rather than close them. The examination of these projects therefore concentrates on their positive qualities with particular reference to concepts, applications and strategies, which may not only benefit portable architecture but building design and manufacture in general. 2 Portable Architecture Figure I.2 Examples of traditional portable buildings, a North American tipi, a Bedouin nomadic tent and an Asian yurt.
  • 13. Each project was studied within a common framework of forty separate questions that investi- gated issues such as briefing, design, procurement, construction, deployment and operation, and future developments. To avoid repetition, not all issues are discussed in each case study and at the client’s request, some information such as accurate costing, contractual arrangements, and design details that are the subject of patent applications, have been omitted for confidentiality. These case studies are not intended to describe every aspect of the project’s design, manufacture and construction, but to concentrate on specific features that relate to the general issues of portable building provision. References are given at the end of each case study to enable easy access to more detailed information if required.5 Since the first edition of this book was published there has been a steady expansion in the number of built projects that are of sufficient inter- est to be included. As with the second edition, none of the previous case studies has been omitted, as the reasons for their inclusion are still pertinent. However, they have been edited and updated, and new projects added where they are of interest. The larger number of designers and construction teams which need to be effectively examined and compared in this edition has led to the book being reorganised into three thematic sections – role models, problem solvers, and specialists. This helps to order the examination of this expanding field into comparable areas based on the nature of the design teams and the characteristics of the projects Introduction 3 Figure I.3 Caravans and trailers form an easily movable ‘village’. Figure I.4 The Nissen hut. The classic example of a simple modular demountable building. Built of corrugated iron, timber and glass, the standardised kit contained all components and a simple fifteen point set of instructions.
  • 14. that are examined. However, it should be noted that although these divisions are convenient groups in which to examine and evaluate this very diverse work, they must not be viewed as distinct typo- logies or trends. Portable architecture is simul- taneously a field of great variety and of inter-connections. In these projects, influences and experience can be identified not only with many different areas of architecture but also vehicle, product, and materials development. Role Models In every field of design a small number of specific examples stand out because they establish the integrity and value of the type. The four projects in this section have been chosen as representatives of particularly significant design approaches to the particular problems of mobile building because they each feature important philosophical concepts that exemplify the nature of portable architecture in general. It is not necessarily that they utilise materi- als and strategies which can be used directly in other portable building projects (though in some cases they do this as well) but rather that they indicate the special advantages which mobility can bring to an architectural solution. Their importance is therefore as precedents that indicate the oppor- tunities, benefits, responsibilities and limitations of pursuing the portable route. Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s IBM pavilion is a sophisticated, highly serviced, complex build- ing that has a unique character combining advanced technology with organic form. Its ambiguous beauty allows it to harmonise (rather than conflict) with a wide range of historic, urban, and arboreal settings. The pavilion designed by Future Systems for the Museum of the Moving Image is a simple structure of great beauty that accentuates its lightweight, ephemeral nature to create a distinctly different image from conven- tional architecture. It exemplifies technological innovation in the service of function rather than as applied image. Tadao Ando’s Karaza Theatre embodies tradi- tional cultural concepts applied in a highly pragmatic logistical construction system that is ephemeral rather than mobile. Though the build- ing’s presence is transitory it nevertheless manages to maintain the continuity of historical architec- tural principles. Festo Corporate Design creates prototypical applications for the expertise in pneumatic and hydraulic control systems devel- oped by its parent company. The Airtecture and Airquarium buildings are unique examples of the benefits of commissioning, designing, and manu- facturing as an interactive experimental process. 4 Portable Architecture Figure I.5 The Butler Manufacturing Company, creator of the prefabricated Butler Bin grain store, produced a wide range of portable buildings for use by the US Military during the Second World War. This rendering shows a complete Butler airfield incorporating dwellings (including Buckminster Fuller’s Dynamic Deployment Units (DDU), service facilities, hangars and the runway surface itself. The company is now a market leader in prefabricated building components used in both temporary and permanent situations. (Butler Manufacturing Company)
  • 15. The TAG McLaren’s Team Communications Centre is a new case study for this edition. This remarkable project maintains the imagery and usability of a permanently sited commercial build- ing, even though it is in reality a completely mobile, speedily deployable facility. It proves that the most demanding standards in terms of environ- mental control, state-of-the-art servicing and multi- functional operation can be met within an elegant architectural design. Problem Solvers The projects included in this section have been created by design teams who are actively involved in the development of pragmatic flexible buildings for use in a wide range of functions – many of which require conventional permanently sited buildings. The mobile solutions examined here have therefore emerged in response to the parame- ters of the specific project requirements. Although these teams have become experts in the design of portable architecture, this is not because they have selected that as their chosen field, but because the problem they wished to solve led them there. Lorenzo Apicella’s TSB and Hong Kong Tourist Association projects are relatively small-scale. However, the constructional systems they use are amongst the most innovative described here, merging conventional building systems, vehicle engineering and stage design to create completely portable kinetic facilities that still retain a definitive image as buildings. The Alec French Partnership’s design for a mobile marketing centre uses familiar building procedures throughout to create a build- ing that responds to the requirement for demount- ability, but which also possesses spin-off benefits in terms of speedy manufacture and erection. Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners’ IGUS Factory is unique in these case studies in that the building has not been designed to be portable in its entirety. It has been included, not only because of the completely movable office and toilet pods that form part of its design, but also because of its unique flexibility in use which makes it a precedent for fully portable buildings as well as those with similar functions that are permanently sited. Buro Happold is one of the UK’s leading architectural engineering design consultants and as well as the independent projects described here have been crucial collaborators on many important buildings including the UK Millennium Experience Dome. Their specialised portable designs regularly incorporate tensile membranes as an integral part of their construc- tion, a developing technology that has undoubt- edly been highly significant in the evolution of large-span buildings in recent years. Though they are primarily known as architects, Branson Coates create projects which regularly cross the boundaries from building work into events and exhibitions. Powerhouse::UK is signifi- cant not only because of its use of largely conven- tional technology to create an especially memorable image but because it was a turn-key project in which the architects were required to retain control of every aspect of construction, erection and operation in order to deliver it on time and in budget. The second new case study for this edition is designed by architect Eduard Böhtlingk whose practice work on permanent buildings supported the development of his ‘Markies’ mobile dwelling over a ten-year inception to realisation period. The success of this highly visible, though small-scale project lies not only in the union between practicality and romance but its achieve- ment in a high-quality product that operates reliably and with elegance. Specialists Though portable architecture should be understood as a part of all architecture, its realisation does not always derive from conventional circumstances. There is a wide diversity in the form and function of portable structures, which has resulted in a problem solving approach to design. In many cases specialist expertise has been developed both inside and outside the building industry during collabora- tive exploration between designers and manufac- turers in order to resolve the issues of a specific project. This expertise has recognisable value in subsequent projects and therefore leads to the establishment of a specialist creative practice. This final section examines innovative projects by such design teams whose main work is outside the normal experience of general building practice. FTL Design Engineering Studio are one of the USA’s prime innovators in tensile membrane design, an expertise that has no doubt contributed to their position as a leading exponent in the design of large-scale transportable buildings. Though they have also designed permanent build- ings for selected clients this work is habitually informed by their expertise in lightweight struc- tures. Mark Fisher’s primary role is designing enormous music tour sets that have a global media Introduction 5
  • 16. presence. These event structures utilise construc- tional methods and logistical arrangements not normally seen in the building industry, but which enable vast complex constructions to be assembled in hours and days rather than weeks and months. FTL and Fisher are from an established archi- tecture and architectural engineering background; however, a significant portion of the most exciting and dynamic mobile projects have been realised by others who would not regard architectural design as their primary focus (Festo and TAG McLaren would also fall in this category though each of these teams incorporates people who have archi- tectural design experience). Maurice Agis is an artist who creates large complex coloured installation environments that rely on their portability to communicate directly with the public. Agis uses the materials and form of his pneumatic structures in an aesthetic sense to manipulate the senses of those who experience them. The extra-terrestrial habitation projects by NASA architect Kriss Kennedy have yet to be built though they have reached the prototype testing stage. However, the practical transportation and erection problems considered in this work are similar to terrestrial projects, and because of the far more extreme conditions of their deployment are of special interest. Weatherhaven Resources Ltd. is an independent design/manufacturing/deployment organisation that has developed a unique holistic approach to the provision of shelter. They have created a logistical and constructional system that supplies buildings suitable for erection anywhere in the world, in any environmental condition, for any purpose. Each of the design teams involved in these projects has generally worked quite independently of the other. However, there are some interesting common factors. One example is the way that engineering expertise in specialist lightweight building systems has been shared. Ove Arup engineer Peter Rice’s input was valuable to both Renzo Piano and Future Systems, Neil Thomas worked with Lorenzo Apicella and Mark Fisher, and Whitby and Bird were consultants to Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners and the Alec French 6 Portable Architecture Figure I.6 Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, ‘Polyconfidence’ floating hotel for the North Sea oil fields, 1987.
  • 17. Partnership. Though they are now separate organi- zations, Buro Happold and FTL were for some years engaged in a transatlantic partnership linked through their in-house engineering expertise.6 Many of the design teams are also involved in more mainstream work for permanent structures and perceive their portable building design experience as an area of expertise which informs and is informed by architectural design in general. The functional operation of architectural spaces and facilities has clearly benefited from the expertise of those who are professional building designers. The design teams appear to have had little difficulty adjusting to the very different budgeting arrange- ments for portable buildings where the construc- tion costs may only be a small part of a package that also includes transportation and operation, and constructional arrangements that may include builders and material and components manufac- turers who do not usually work within the construction industry. There can be no doubt that society is passing through a period of great change. Technological, economic and political shifts across the world are dramatically altering the way our built environ- ment is shaped. There are many predictions of how the future will develop – few envision utopia, many foresee distopia. Most believe, however, that one thing will remain constant, and that is change! C.H. Waddington in his book, The Man-Made Future, summarises several research projects, which predict that change is in fact the only thing that can save the world from complete and dramatic network breakdown.7 Many influential design professionals and commentators believe that flexi- bility and adaptability is an intrinsic component of a future-looking design agenda.8 Contemporary architecture is already having to respond to signif- icant influences that were deemed relatively unimportant until recently. Ecological considera- tions that measure the use of renewable resources, recyclable components and building costs based on a life-cycle basis are now significant as is the context of sensitive and historic sites and the restrictions placed on building design by planning controls and other legislation. Economic pressure on the building industry now results in fast track programmes for higher specification buildings built with less skilled personnel. Portable architecture may be able to aid in the development of an industry-wide strategy that involves new materials, components and building methods. As a type of building design that must respond to relatively extreme operational parame- ters it more often makes use of experimental and exploratory logistical and constructional methods that may ultimately have more general value. Connections that exist between the portable build- ing projects described in this book already indicate that there is a pattern of new phenomena that deserve further investigation. The expertise and experience of those normally not involved with the building industry is also of value in the develop- ment of new architectural solutions and it is in cross-over design areas like this that such benefits can first be appreciated. II In comparing these case studies three general themes emerge that are of particular significance – technology transfer, alternative logistical proce- dures, and human response to portable architec- ture. Technology Transfer The opportunities of technology developed in other industries are an important resource in design work that is concerned with solving new problems. The value of experience in both related and remote fields may be the identification of new applications that result either from the search for a solution to a particular problem, or by the recognition of an opportunity in a material or construction technique. One manifestation of technology trans- fer has been in the field of marine engineering. This industry is accustomed to manufacturing massive structures like oil rigs which must not only accom- modate many of the functions of living and working but also support complex industrial opera- tions in dramatic severe environments. Projects like Polycastle and Polyconfidence, designed and manufactured by the Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, blur the boundary between construction and shipbuilding. These floating hotels were designed for off-duty oil rig workers in the North Sea and contain 600 and 800 bedrooms as well as cinemas, restaurants, and other leisure facilities.9 At a smaller scale, but more directly influ- ential on architectural design, the highly crafted aesthetic of yacht building technology has been adopted by architects and designers as yacht component manufacturers address themselves to this new market.10 Introduction 7
  • 18. Also inspired by industrial products and the logistics is the work of New York design firm LOT- EK. Italian architects Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Toller have recognised not only the practicality but the beauty of the familiar facilities and machines that serve urban living: oil tankers, refrigerators, steel sinks, and shipping containers have all been used to make interiors and new buildings. LOT-EK creates a surprisingly bespoke architectural vision by making new architecture from old objects. Their work nevertheless conveys a contemporary image that has connotations with recycling and mobility. Simply using a large object originally manufac- tured for another purpose means that mobility becomes an issue, if only to move it from the place in which it has been found to the place in which it is to be converted. However, mobility is also an intrinsic component in their overall design agenda – particularly in the projects that have involved shipping containers. The shipping container is a tough, modular, movable tool that is incorporated into a worldwide standard for ease of transporta- tion. It is obvious that a building form based on this module can make use of the readily available cranes, lorries and ships for relocation purposes and it is common practice to convert shipping contain- ers to make simple, temporary, secure storage facil- ities, site-huts, and rudimentary offices, etc. LOT-EK’s first realised shipping container project was the Welcome-Box for the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2002.11 Sited to greet arriving visitors on the London platform at the city’s railway station it presented a familiar object which had also clearly been morphed into something quite different to become both an art installation and a building with a practical use. Ramped entrances at each end led into a mirrored and black rubber padded interior in which video monitors projected changing images with an accompanying sound track. Manufactured in the 8 Portable Architecture Figure I.7 LOT-EK’s Welcome-Box.
  • 19. Introduction 9 Figure I.8 LOT-EK’s Mobile Dwelling Unit – the basic module is designed around the limitations of a standard shipping container. Figure I.9 The MDU infrastructural frame.
  • 20. 10 Portable Architecture Figure I.10 Klein-Dytham’s Pika-Pika Pretzel hoarding in Tokyo.
  • 21. workshop and delivered to site and commissioned within twenty-four hours, the building was removed after three months and placed in storage to wait for the next event. A much grander proposal is the Mobile Dwelling Unit (MDU) – a container-based home that is aimed at the growing number of people who prefer (or whose job requires them) to move around the world on a regular basis. The MDU is a shipping container that is a self-contained home, with push- out sections for sleeping, bathroom, kitchen and storage facilities. It is designed to be located at any of the world’s ports – transported on container ships, and slotted into a specially made infrastruc- tural frame at its destination. The MDU allows the traveller to have a home in every port, a real dedicated and personal dwelling with the continu- ity of their own possessions, though with a chang- ing view from the window. Though the idea of a flexible, infrastructure-based, ever-changing city environment is by no means new (Buckminster Fuller and Archigram proposed it – Kisho Kurokawa and Richard Rogers tried to build it) this idea makes use of readily available, well-tested logistical systems, that genuinely support the relocation of dwellings on a continuous basis rather than the appearance of plug-in architecture without the reality.12 The possibilities of adapting materials and construction techniques from other industries such as aerospace and car manufacture has been advocated by many commentators since the begin- ning of the twentieth century and though many exciting prototypes exist, the full impact of widespread technology transfer has yet to be exploited. Portable architecture uses a much greater range of innovative materials and constructional techniques than conventional building projects and it is therefore at the forefront in the exploitation of technology transfer opportunities in the building industry. Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein are two UK- educated architects who established their practice in Tokyo in 1991. Their work frequently crosses the boundaries between building, product and media design and their use of new materials and building methods, in particular plastics and inflatables, has given the practice a reputation for innovation and Introduction 11 Figure I.11 The components of Klein-Dytham’s portable pavilion for the UK’98 festival in Japan.
  • 22. eye-catching imagery. In a country where urban land values are so high that the building can become a relatively small part of the total develop- ment investment, transient fit-outs are common. However, as well as such temporary installations, Klein-Dytham have built some genuinely portable projects. Their use of a polyurethane-coated nylon membrane (the same material used to make high altitude balloons) to create a temporary site hoard- ing for International developer VELOQX’s first project in Japan created a memorable image to announce the company’s arrival but also to draw attention to the high-profile commercial location in Harajuku, Tokyo. The 34-metre long site bound- ary was framed in metallic panels with brightly coloured circular descriptions of the new building’s purpose surmounted by an intricate pneumatic wall rising to 12 metres above pavement level. The project was called Pika Pika (Japanese for shiny) Pretzel (named for the shape of the inflatables). Metalised polyester was laminated to the nylon to make it shiny whilst the holes were left translucent so that the structure would also work well at night with internal illumination. Another hoarding project was for the multi- conglomerate British company Virgin – an interac- tive wall that asked questions of passers-by who could text their answers to win prizes. Virgin were sponsors of Klein-Dytham’s most significant portable building so far – a mobile pavilion for UK ‘98, a year-long festival of cultural events in Japan promoting British products and services. This struc- ture consisted of five separate pavilions that could be erected in a number of different arrangements both in terms of layout and form, though the dominant recognisable image of an inflatable polyurethane-coated nylon cloud remained constant. This shelter was supported on four aluminium stilts located into base supports that could also serve as seating. The frames could also be fitted with side panels if needed for privacy or protection from the weather. The building was transported to more than thirty different venues throughout the year. Logistics Construction and operation strategies often have to be very different for portable building construc- tions. A particularly difficult logistical problem solved by Mark Fisher was how to create a complete 12 Portable Architecture Figure I.12 UK’98 pavilion.
  • 23. stage with amplification and lighting rigs that spanned across the entire 45-metre width of a football field in 4.5 minutes during the 2001 Superbowl half-time interval. Fisher created a completely demountable system that could be erected solely with human power utilising 450 willing volunteers. As the players left the field the vast team ran on carrying the structure’s compo- nents and proceeded to erect the 18-metre high structure in front of the 78,000 audience. The ensuing show was seen on live television by an estimated 115 million people. Introduction 13 Figure I.13 Mark Fisher’s stage for the Superbowl 2001 half-time show; (a) the stage is prepared on rolling dollies; (b) the dollies are pushed into the arena for assembly; (c) the masts are winched into position; (d) the lighting and pyrotechnics catamaran are winched to the top of the masts; (e) and (f) the show begins and ends. (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f)
  • 24. Though not usually as extreme as this, most portable structures demand easy assembly and disassembly and this results in the selection of construction strategies that utilise prefabricated, modular, dry jointed systems with repetitive components. Performance requirements also affect the choice of materials for components, which need to be lightweight and compact for easy and economic transportation. Speed and cost of erection are important factors, which depend on the skill level and size of the erection team and have resulted in the development of automatic erection systems such as those designed by Lorenzo Apicella and TAG McLaren. Portable architecture design affords more opportunities for experimenta- tion because buildings that are created for tempo- rary sites, specific tasks and a defined lifespan are generally not associated with long-term, low risk investment. The logistical problems associated with mobility mean that specific solutions are sought to specific problems rather than by the adoption of readily available standard systems. The portable building also represents the potential for a truly recyclable construction system in which whole buildings can be moved to different places for different uses, or broken down into their compo- nent parts. Portable architecture uses some of the most innovative forms of building yet devised which makes it a valuable testing ground for the rest of the industry. One example is manufactured build- ing which utilises factory production techniques to provide high quality buildings at low cost. The mobile home industry provides a quarter of all new houses in North America with factory-made build- ings which are transported either as completed dwellings or as double-wides, and which are joined together on site. The competition winning house designed by Abacus Architects in 1994 utilised existing mobile home construction techniques to develop a high quality low cost prototype home. The house was built on a production line in three weeks, delivered to site for assembly and was ready for occupation two and a half weeks later.13 There 14 Portable Architecture Figure I.14 Superbowl 2001 half-time show general arrangement drawing.
  • 25. Introduction 15 Figure I.15 The ‘Progressive Architecture’ house designed by Abacus architects, Boston, 1992. This competition winning design was built by mobile home manufacturer Stratton Homes on their production line, then delivered to site in two separate volumetric units.
  • 26. has also been considerable recent interest in the UK regarding the potential of prefabricated techniques to solve the parallel problems of too few homes being available at too high a cost. For example, architects Cartwright Pickard, in collaboration with clients The Peabody Trust, and manufacturers Yorkon (a part of the Portakabin group), are one of several groups involved in designing high quality housing based on the strategy of factory-built modules that are then transported to site in order to reduce construction time significantly.14 There are many functional and operational factors common to both dedicated projects such as the Acorn House and standard systems like Yorkon’s and experience gained in one area may be used to improve the other. Human Response Perhaps the most important (yet most difficult to evaluate) common feature of these case studies is the reactions that people have to portable architec- ture. Practical benefits are relatively easy to under- stand once they are quantified; however, the way in which people respond to the temporary charac- teristics of structures they are accustomed to think- ing of as permanent is complex. Portable buildings can do almost anything that permanent ones can – and they are also frequently capable of fulfilling other functions that would be impossible by any other means. Portable buildings have a low environmental impact; they may be located in rural or urban situations with minimal long-term effects. They can make use of a temporary identifiable address that is of value to both the operator and the visitor, in that high profile locations can be used to increase the numbers of people reached in a given time period. Unusual building forms that are temporarily sited in familiar settings can also change people’s view of their environment and maybe give them the impetus to more clearly recog- nise its positive and negative attributes. The work of artists that crosses the boundaries between installation and architecture has an impor- tant role to play in bringing a new and different appreciation of familiar places and environments. The work of Maurice Agis is studied in detail in this book. However, there are many other artists who are influential in the field of experimental mobile environments: Joep van Lieshout is a Dutch environmental and performance artist who has created a wide range of provocative work from his studio outside Rotterdam which deals with the ability of personally manufactured objects to support our desire for personal freedom. In partic- ular, his group of collaborators and assistants have manufactured a series of ‘mobile homes’ that are simultaneously sensuous, romantic, amusing and, at least to a certain degree, practical proposals for transportable, towable and clip-on living and sleep- ing spaces. Projects like the La Bais-ô-Drôme are made using a range of simple materials and techniques, wooden frame, glass-fibre – Atelier van Lieshout have even published a construction manual to help others invent and manufacture their own alternative caravan. American artist Andrea Zittel has also used the building of a personal mobile home as a way to examine critically the conventional homes that most of us have no choice but to live in. Her A-Z Homestead Units are miniature trailer buildings with all the comforts of home; seats, beds, toilets, 16 Portable Architecture Figure I.16 Sprite Musketeer mobile art gallery on location in North Wales. Figure I.17 Sprite Musketeer interior.
  • 27. and a personal collection of the artist’s objects. Their desirability and completeness in containing all the services and comforts we require seem to question the need for anything more. Her A-Z Personal Compartment Units are more like a demountable modular living space, with different function areas linked together through circular openings. It also stimulates comparisons with a conventional home with its evocative character that is part playground, part play-house, part hamster’s cage. The Sprite Musketeer does not deal with the question of home though it is based in what was once a mobile version of one, but the way in which we relate to places, in particular the landscape. It is a standard touring caravan commercially built in the 1970s which has been converted by artist Simon Blackmore into a mobile contemporary art space. The project was originally funded by the Arts Council of Wales as a mobile viewing station that reinvented the tradition of landscape painting. The structure was stripped of its interior except for a simple bench that faced the rear window. Painted orange to contrast with the external natural environment the caravan was placed at critical positions alongside the road in such a way that the audience could sit inside and admire a framed view of the landscape that alluded to those painted in previous generations by great artists such as J.M.W. Turner. Sound and video recordings were made to capture the views, ambient noise and the conver- sations of those who took part in the experience. A subsequent project explored views in the Lake District. However, the Sprite Musketeer has now become a mobile venue in its own right, where small numbers of people can have intimate viewings of video works.15 Like Maurice Agis, Alan Parkinson sculpts space, light and colour with inflatable poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) structures. Since 1990, Parkinson’s team at Architects of Air has been building and exhibiting ‘luminaria’, mobile sculptures that people can enter to experience undiluted luminous colour. The various structures: Eggopolis, Meggopolis, Ixilum, Levity, Luminarium V and Arcazaar, are made from unsupported PVC which has no reinforcing fabric so that the colours may be seen at their purest. The PVC, made by French manufacturer Ferrari, has good strength, is flexible in a range of temperatures, and comparatively resis- tant to fire. PVC does, however, deteriorate with air pollution, the effect of ultra-violet light, and temperature extremes so each of the luminaria have a projected life of 200 exhibition days. The starting point in the design is the footprint of the installation layout, the aim being to provide the most interesting and exciting experience for the visitor – the creation of surprise and discovery are key elements. Limitations are the structural stabil- ity of the volumes and the desire to keep the outer perimeter of the installation to the smallest possi- ble area so that the range of potential host sites is kept to the maximum. The installations are capable of being dismantled into a convenient number of portable parts so that they are easy to transport. They must also be stable in use so they are designed to drain quickly of water, and are tied down with frequent anchor points in case of strong winds. Up to 120 anchors can be used for one installation, either sandbags or concrete blocks on hard surfaces or 800 mm long bar pins on grass. The luminarias are designed to be fully accessible to all so floor areas and entry and exit points are kept flat to the supporting ground surface (usually grass) to allow the passage of wheelchairs. The shapes of the volumes are limited to cones, spheres and cylinders Introduction 17 Figure I.18 Architects of Air luminaria ‘Arcazaar’.
  • 28. because of the pneumatic pressures on the unsup- ported PVC; however, the combinations and size of the shapes can have great variety. Once a design has been established the PVC can be cut to shape using hardboard templates and glued together along its seams with Bostik 3206 adhesive. Though fabrication is straightforward a single structure will take six people about five months to complete. Installation on a grass surface takes from four to six hours, but on a hard surface it takes longer (eight hours or more) because the anchor points take longer to position. Nine blowers are used to inflate the structure which generate twice as much air pressure than is required to keep it erect, thereby providing an ample factor of safety in case a rupture occurs in the membrane. The latest Architects of Air project is Arcazaar based on 72 three-sided domes inspired by modular repetitious structures seen by Parkinson on a recent visit to Iran. One benefit of this new form is that a much longer visitor journey with greater variety can be contained within the same sized ground plan. Arcazaar therefore has intricate weaving pathways which open out to vistas, intimate small spaces, larger, more dramatic ones, and apparently independent pneumatic columns formed where six domes meet. Architects of Air structures are part art installation, part entertainment, part revitalization of the public space and have been experienced by over a million visitors in twenty-five countries on five continents. Like Agis’s work they not only create a unique experience for the internal visitor, they also open up a world of surprise for those who live and work near the site of the installation, seeing an instant building size structure of extrava- gant form created in a once-familiar space over night. Parkinson states that visitors are frequently casual passers-by, drawn in by the enticing vision of a large structure that flexes as people lean against its walls and shivers and vibrates in response to the movements of those who are already inside. Portable architecture has the potential to communicate a shared experience to geographically dispersed groups of people. This was one of the objectives of the Swiss centennial pavilion designed by Mario Botta in 1991. This building was made from thirteen ingeniously hinged trussed beams (representing the thirteen cantons that founded Switzerland) that supported a crown of twenty-six poles (representing the twenty-six current cantons) and it travelled to regional centres throughout the country to reinforce the common history of a people who speak several different languages and have a variety of geographic backgrounds. The building occupied important historic settings during its tour, linking together the historic matrix of the nation with a modern structure redolent with potent new symbols.16 18 Portable Architecture Figure I.19 Architects of Air luminaria ‘Levity’ sited at Somerset House, London. Figure I.20 Interior of a luminaria in Manchester with an external statue visible through structure’s skin.
  • 29. III Portable architecture should not be seen as some unique hybrid manifestation, part way between transport and building design. It is without doubt a facet of mainstream architectural design. This can be justified with a number of reasons, some pragmatic and others more philosophical. All good portable architecture sets out to create an identifi- able sense of place in exactly the same way as a permanent building does. The fact that its physical existence on a particular site may be subject to dramatic erection and dismantling procedures and be comparatively limited in time, also adds a sense of excitement associated with event and perfor- mance. This phenomenon may be compared with the accelerated motion of a speeded-up film that provides a fascinating view that compresses a process that normally takes much longer. No matter how long the building is present on a particular site, for that period the portable build- ing’s primary function remains the same as a similar permanent facility – to provide shelter and foster the activities that are accommodated. The way in which it achieves this should not be compromised by its portability and the user should not have to suffer inferior standards simply because the building happens to be movable. Many standard products stress their instant availability as a key factor in their marketing and expect clients to compromise their performance standards for this benefit. The good designer approaches the task of creating permanent or portable architecture with the same set of priorities, balancing all the factors pertinent to the project. Portability is just another factor like lighting, security or access arrangements. Designer or client may decide that the portable element in the design brief may provide the oppor- tunity for the creation of a specific image associated with movement, but it may equally be one of Introduction 19 Figure I.21 Swiss Confederation 700th Anniversary mobile pavilion, design drawings by Mario Botta, 1989. As the central ring was raised in the air the hinged trusses straightened out and were then clamped rigid to form a column-free space.
  • 30. stability and continuity that is required. All portable buildings should therefore be judged by the same criteria as other architecture – fitness for purpose, appropriate for context, beautiful in form, economy in use. Due to the particular circumstances of their erection, portable buildings are generally composed of relatively lightweight materials. This is a charac- teristic that can be traced from vernacular and traditional examples through to the latest computer-aided designs that are made in factories. In general, materials are expressed in their construc- tion because to disguise them is to add unnecessary complexity and additional weight. This also applies to their structural composition, which enables a clear identification of the difference between supporting elements and cladding elements. Well- designed portable buildings exhibit clarity of archi- tectural expression which makes them exemplars of functional form generation, and they therefore occupy a place at the forefront of architectural design development.17 This reinforces the reason why portable architecture is part of the mainstream – the methods of construction and techniques of manufacture it pioneers are applicable to all types of buildings. The use of lightweight prefabricated componentised construction can reduce site work, building time and transportation costs. New build- ing methods originally devised for demountable buildings have been transferred to permanent constructional operations – components developed for a primary market in permanent buildings are now being used in portable structures. It is there- fore clear that the study of the design, manufacture, construction and operation of this particular archi- tectural field has potential benefits in all. However, there is a lack of coordinated research activity into portable building techniques. Industry- led research is primarily legislation-led and concen- trates on increasing the standards in existing products to meet more stringent statutory require- ments. The introduction of user-led research could lead to the development of new markets and appli- cations. Innovative one-off designs like most of those described here are a valuable research resource in that practical examples of working structures can be used as models for future investi- gation. Projects designed to challenge existing construction methods such as Festo’s ‘Airtecture’ hall are very rare. Created as a purely experimental building incorporating wholly innovative construc- tional and operational systems, its purpose is to explore the envelope of architectural design, to reinforce the technologically advanced image of the company who made it, and to prototype unprece- dented research and development ideas. Though clearly a piece of architecture, it stands outside the normal world of the building industry due to its unique commissioning, design, construction and operational characteristics. In some cases the expertise of professional designers is already being utilised by parts of the manufacturing industry (marquee tent manufactur- ers employ Buro Happold in the UK and FTL Design Engineering Studio in the USA) and this is an optimistic sign for future development. The objec- tives of a coordinated industry-based research programme would be to improve the image of the portable building, to communicate its advantages and develop its potential. This will not be easy – the difficulties of transferring research into appli- cation is reinforced by many projects which have been successful in prototype but failed to make it into large-scale production.18 However, the examples described in this book convincingly indicate the potential of portable architecture – a potential to be both the best architecture and the best engineering. The nature of this book is that the case studies are primarily projects that have been taken to completion. However, it is of interest that several of the designers included here are currently involved in much more ambitious projects. Lorenzo Apicella, now a partner with the international design firm Pentagram, and engineer Neil Thomas of Atelier One are currently working on The Communicator, a mobile building of more than 3000 square metres that can travel to corporate events throughout Europe. The clients, WCT Communications, operate and manage a wide range of corporate and commercial presentation, education and conference events and need a highly flexible portable environment with a powerful, identifiable image. The structure incorporates a central steel mast and a radial network of aluminium portal frames that support an insulated PVC roof membrane. It has an aluminium floor system, ramps and stairways, and a perimeter wall of interlinked GRP panels. The internal walls will also be movable to create different, flexible environments depending on the demands placed on the facility by its users. FTL Design Engineering Studio are also involved in the creation of a new communication venue. The ‘Machine Tent’ for the Harley-Davidson Travelling Tour (celebrating the motorcycle manufacturer’s 100th anniversary) is the only custom-designed component in a large travelling show that will be 20 Portable Architecture
  • 31. Introduction 21 Figure I.22 The Communicator, Apicella Associates and Atelier One – a portable events and presentation facility. Figure I.23 The Communicator – computer perspective of exterior and interior relocatable spaces.
  • 32. 22 Portable Architecture Figure I.24 FTL Design Engineering Studio’s ‘Machine Tent’ for Harley Davidson’s Travelling Tour, 2002. Figure I.25 FTL Design Engineering Studio’s ‘Machine Tent’ for Harley Davidson’s Travelling Tour, 2002.
  • 33. Introduction23 Figure I.26 The ‘Machine Tent’ erection process
  • 34. set up not only in the US but in Tokyo, Sydney, Cologne, Mexico City, Vancouver and Barcelona. The challenge was not only to make a structure that would accommodate the varying building codes and erection conditions in these different parts of the world, but also to meet the deadline which required all design, engineering and construction be completed in under twenty weeks. The solution was to create a 50-metre diameter building that could be erected in just three days without the use of heavy cranes or other equipment. The building consists of a central mast and six secondary masts that all have internally mounted winches, which haul up all the required elevated components. The curving segment that caps the secondary masts creates an internal element reminiscent of the motorcycle structures exhibited previously (see Figures I.24 and I.25), but also provides the building’s unique external form. The elements that compose the six fields of the circular design are all identical to allow for quick and easy assembly. Although using the latest technology the building sits firmly within the tradi- tion of the circus tent – reinvigorating it with contemporary meaning. FTL partner Todd Dalland is also developing an innovative new facility for the New York Public Schools Authority. This is the first completely trans- portable mobile school campus, designed not only to accommodate surges in school populations as students move through the system from elementary to high school, but also to allow the entire student and teaching body to be relocated whilst refurbish- ment takes place. Existing mobile classrooms are similar to ‘double-wide’ mobile homes in form and are relatively difficult to move as they need to be lifted into place by crane and connected to perma- nent services infrastructure. The environment they provide has also been widely criticised. In collabo- ration with architects Marty Raab, Prakath Nair and Richard Dattner Partners, FTL have developed designs for a range of buildings that can be deployed from a dedicated staging area at relatively short notice, easily transported on public roads to be in use within twenty-four hours. They comprise class- rooms, administration, a library, specialist rooms for art, music, science, information technology, a cafeteria and a gymnasium and incorporate self- contained power generation, air-conditioning, fresh and waste-water storage within the individual units providing flexibility of deployment and layout and the ability to be used independently if required. The prototype is to be built on a 1.5 metre long trailer and uses fold out walls to make a 50 square metre classroom. The objective is to make an environment 24 Portable Architecture Figure I.27 NY City Mobile Classroom project – deployment sequence.
  • 35. that is conducive to teaching, capable of quick and easy deployment, and costs less than the inadequate structures currently in use. The connotation that these buildings have with beneficial change is also important to the client in that they embody a recog- nisable sign of improvements being made in the city’s educational provision.19 FTL’s workload is not restricted to terrestrial projects – they are currently collaborating with Honeywell in developing a mobile airlock for use with the next generation of smaller and lighter space vehicles that will replace the thirty-year-old Space Shuttle design in less than ten years time. As both volume and mass are at a premium when lifting cargo into space, everything that can be done to eliminate irregularly used facilities saves on fuel and increases potential payload. Design work has been done using software (Rhino, FEMAP, and NE/NASTRAN) that is frequently used to create the tensile membrane buildings that form a large part of FTL’s workload. FTL and Honeywell have designed and proto- typed a deployable space room that can act as an air-lock when astronauts need to exit the vehicle. The structure is stored beneath the aerosurface of the vehicle during launch and re-entry and is deployed when required with the use of pressurised air beams and air muscles, gear-driven telescoping struts, and pressurisation of the interior space. The outer fabric is six layers thick and provides protec- tion from micrometeorites and the massive temper- ature differential of space, the inner six-layer fabric contains the air pressure that rigidises the structure. A full-scale low fidelity mock-up has been completed and small scale tests that accurately represent the performance extremes are under way. The diverse nature of these projects’ functions and the innovative forms employed in their logis- tical and constructional solutions may lead to the perception of movable building projects as uncon- nected discrete phenomena. However, though their diversity means they could never be grouped together into a style or movement, these designs respond to similar crucial current issues and an examination of the case studies in this book does show some interesting correlations between projects which indicates that though certainly not a ‘movement’ perhaps there is a zeitgeist emerging in which they share. These correlations can be found spread across the entire range of building design, procurement, construction and operation and reflect changes that are occurring not only in the building industry but also throughout the entire commercial world. Introduction 25 Figure I.29 Spacewalk CAD drawing. Figure I.28 Spacewalk entry module for NASA’s next generation space vehicle.
  • 36. Most of the buildings described here have been commissioned by clients who are unsure what they actually want, though they have a clear idea of what they want to do – instead of saying they want a ’building’, they may say they want an ‘exhibi- tion’, or an ‘experience’, or a ‘shelter’. The designer has therefore been placed in a much more power- ful role than usual – as well as advising on archi- tectural form and construction he or she may also be determining operational criteria and siting. The nature of commissioning is also different, utilising much less formal contracts based on performance related goals rather than strict provi- sions of space, volume, and environment. Rather than a desire to get the most space for the least cost there is an understanding that the achievement of the facility’s goals within an acceptable budget is the prime objective. In addition, operational costs are often taken as a part of the budget – energy, transportation, maintenance, erection and disman- tling costs emerging as equally important elements in a predetermined cost package. It is also of inter- est that though contracts are far less involved, the actual projects are frequently far more complex and incorporate many more variables than in conven- tional building. In the case studies described here, the performance criteria stipulated in the contract have usually been exceeded – the building costing less to operate than originally forecast, capable of speedier erection, and having a longer life or secondary use beyond the parameters of the initial brief.20 The clients received more for their money thanks to the ingenuity of the designer and the skills of the contractor. Portable architecture is as varied in form and image as mainstream buildings. However, some common factors can be perceived and these relate primarily to materiality. Though its image does not fall into a set visual pattern, there is one factor that is common to most designs – these buildings appear to represent something new. This may be explained by the understandable recourse of designers to light and strong materials which are best suited to the requirements of transportation and demountability and the lightest, strongest construction methods consist of comparatively high technology systems. Even when the designer’s ambition has been specifically to create a portable building that has the presence of high-quality architecture (rather than high-quality temporary building) the image created is still one of lightweight, modern efficiency. Membranes are becoming increasingly common in either tensioned form or as air- supported structures. This is not only because 26 Portable Architecture Figure I.30 Spacewalk prototype deployment testing.
  • 37. increased performance and longer life can be expected from the new range of membranes but also because of the relative ease with which they can now be manipulated at the design stage due to computer aided design. Architects can create three- dimensional forms in physical or computer gener- ated models, which can then be transferred to programmes which carry out the detailed stress calculations and pattern making. Advances continue to be made not only in the creation of new products like ETFE foils and elastomers, but also in the development of well-proven materials like canvas. Perhaps the traditional image of the tent membrane as the classic portable shelter has helped reinforce its new role in making architec- ture. Indeed, though the introduction of new materials is significant, it is also true that the full potential of traditional materials such as canvas have yet to be realised. The Lightweight Structures Unit (LSU) at the University of Dundee has designed and built several prototypical mobile structures that use the latest modelling techniques to push back the boundaries of what was previously thought possible with this material.21 Working with textile proofer J.T. Inglis, the multi-disciplinary team from the Departments of Architecture and Civil Engineering have tackled a Ministry of Defence brief for a rapid deployment tactical shelter. The resulting building is 9 metres long by 6 metres wide by 3 metres high and weighs just 90 kilograms. Its elliptical form provides strength, rigidity, and the maximum usable floor space. The truss uses a tightly woven, balanced weave polyester sail cloth web and glass fibre reinforced polyester resin ribs with an ingenious hinge system that allows the truss to be collapsed and deployed easily. The entire building can be packed into a cylinder 3.2 metres long and 300 mm diameter and is light enough to be carried by four people. Only two people are required to erect the building, which takes less than ten minutes. Introduction 27 Figure I.31 MOD deployable shelter by J.T. Inglis and the Lightweight Structures Unit at the University of Dundee. Figure I.32 The MOD deployable truss utilising a web of polyester sail cloth.
  • 38. Another project by LSU is a mobile canopy system designed in collaboration with Arena Seating, the UK’s leading supplier of outdoor event seating. The canopy is an elegant cantilevered arch that springs from the back of a standard mobile stadium seating section. The arch is made from two aluminium ribs that create a ladder-like structure with stainless steel top and diagonal cables. The frame and the membrane are assembled together at ground level and then a winch, located at the base of the truss, bends it into its rigid working shape. This radical departure from traditional methods provides many important advantages in terms of safety and speed and convenience of erection. As these two projects are aimed at volume production, much of the design work has not only been in creating and proving the concept but also in maximising component integration to simplify factory production and thereby reduce manufactur- ing costs. This is an important factor in contempo- rary mobile building design where conventional solutions already exist – the new approach will only be adopted if it can fulfil its task more efficiently, more economically with at least the same level of reliability. Plastics such as glass reinforced polyester, fibre- glass, epoxies and polycarbonates are being used in a wide range of other roles besides membranes, for poltrusions, jointing, tension lines, webbing, windows, doors, and rigid panels. Aluminium and steel remain the most common compression member materials for their availability and famil- iarity in component manufacture. Where costs allow or performance dictates, new advanced technology materials such as carbon fibre and Kevlar are being introduced. These spin-offs from other advanced industries inevitably surface first in building designs that have high performance requirements combined with the necessity to retain low weight. Advances in control systems are also now affecting portable building designs making possible self-levelling mechanisms, hydraulically and pneu- matically operated components, self-deploying structures, and self-monitoring and responsive envelopes and environments. These systems, once restricted to static, permanently located machinery, have now become sufficiently robust, compact, and economic in the use of energy to be portable. Despite these inevitable technological advances, many of which find their first use in the creation of portable architecture, such buildings do not exist just because the new technology is now available to make them. Buildings that move from place to place have been designed, made and used for millennia. The need for portable buildings is what drives the demand for them – the fact that they can now be made more easily or more efficiently simply makes them more attractive as an alternative to making wasteful disposable buildings in the same situation. It has been suggested that the building industry does not need any more new materials or techniques at all, what it really needs to do is build better with the old ones.22 Traditional portable buildings have frequently used commonplace materials such as timber, rope, cloth or felt to create sophisticated, environmentally aware, finely tuned buildings. Most contemporary designers have a natural inclination to explore the potential of the latest, lightest, most modern products in order to achieve their goals. Frequently when the budget does not allow these materials to be included they 28 Portable Architecture Figure I.33 LSU and Arena Seating’s mobile canopy system.
  • 39. have been forced to use more prosaic methods – plywood, standard steel sections, rope, canvas, etc. Sometimes they perceive this as a failure or a compromised solution; however, the cheapest, most commonplace materials, free materials, or those which have been repeatedly recycled, can also make wonderful spaces and forms – for example, polythene sheet containing water for foundations, unprocessed wood for walls, and air under pressure for a roof. Where the building use is temporary, the siting of limited duration, and the impact transient, experimentation is as valuable for an innovative low-tech building as it is for a high-tech one. One designer who has built several mobile buildings from recycled materials is Jennifer Siegal, whose Office for Mobile Design (OMD) is based in Los Angeles, California. The majority of OMD’S built work has involved community and education agencies and she is an advocate of the do-it- yourself, self-help approach to creating buildings. Though OMD’s range of speculative work is wide, from mobile shops and information technology centres to houses Siegal’s most significant built projects have been community based mobile educa- tional facilities constructed on donated truck chassis’ with recycled ‘free’ materials. The Eco-Lab is a mobile classroom that contains a multi-media programme explaining the importance of environ- ment and sustainability to the local community. Made from cast-off film sets from the Hollywood film industry, the structure has a definite building- like quality, with natural materials – a wooden floor, a woven slat wall – being predominant. The unique ability of mobiles to provide an event upon Introduction 29 Figure I.34 OMD’s Eco-Lab, a mobile building made from recycled components and materials. Figure I.35 Eco-Lab model.
  • 40. arrival as they transform from vehicle to building is utilised to engage the children’s interest. From a closed-in lorry shell it becomes a permeable, light- filled space, with layers of plants cantilevering from the sides. The children are encouraged to follow a route through the various zones of the structure learning about the ‘life of a tree’. Along the way, each student receives a sapling, which they are asked to water and take care of, finally meeting in a discussion space for questions. The Portable Construction Training Center (PCTC) was designed for a non-profit organisation that wished to develop affordable housing for low- income and disadvantaged people.23 The aim of the facility is to provide a classroom that can be used to teach their apprentices building construction 30 Portable Architecture Figure I.36 The Portable Construction Training Center (PCTC) plan. Figure I.37 PCTC open and ready for use.
  • 41. skills such as plumbing, painting, carpentry, plastering and electrical installation. One side of the large 20-metre long trailer folds open to create a porch which accesses the different zones dedicated to each of the skill. Tool kits disengage from the facility for use in the surrounding space and a 3.8 metre square meeting and group-teach- ing space is provided at the entry point. Entirely built from pre-used and donated materials by design and build students from Woodbury University, the image of the building is a practical, yet energetic and engaging response to its purpose. The concept of a building that not only can be taken to where a rebuilding project is underway, but then also opens up for free access and use, is one that combines the joint ambitions of recon- struction and education. IV The field of portable building design is challenging and varied and because of this the design experi- ence it engenders can also have value in the devel- opment of new strategies for static building projects. Perhaps the most high profile building to be erected in the UK during the twentieth century has been the Millennium Experience Dome, which owes its form, construction, use of materials and structural systems to portable building precedents.24 The main design partners involved with the Millennium Experience projects were the London based multi-disciplinary design group Imagination Ltd., architects Richard Rogers Partnership, and consulting engineers Buro Happold. The concept for this building emerged in the summer of 1996 when Ian Liddell of Buro Happold, Gary Withers of Imagination and Mike Davies of Richard Rogers Partnership put together a proposal for a building that would cover all the exhibition components within a single giant envelope allowing them to be made without the constructional constraints of external weather conditions. This enabled the project to meet both the budget and the extremely tight programme timetable. Over the next few weeks, Buro Happold developed the engineering concept for a fabric-clad, stressed cable dome supported by twelve main columns, and after comments and modifications by the other design- ers, engineering, procurement and legislative prepa- rations began in earnest. The Conservative UK government at that time perceived the project as a temporary event, a sort of nationwide party, and the designers were under strict instructions not to spend any money on features that would give the building a long-term life. However, they questioned the ecological and economic rationality of this decision, and therefore obtained quotes for higher specification PTFE coated fabric as well as making sure that longer lasting galvanising would be used on the cables. The Labour government, elected in May 1997, Introduction 31 Figure I.38 UK Millennium Experience Dome.
  • 42. backed the Millennium Experience project they had inherited, but also underlined its value as an urban regenerator for the surrounding area and as a longer term investment in building and communications infrastructure reinforcing the designers’ earlier commitment to a responsible building strategy. To say the dome is big is an understatement – 320 metres in diameter, over 100 metres to the top of the masts and more than 1000 metres around its circumference. The enclosure takes the form of a spherical tensioned fabric cap. This skin is supported by tensioned steel cables arranged radially on the surface of the building, supported and braced from the columns by hanging and tying down cables at 25 metre intervals. Problems arising from deflections caused by snow or heavy rain loads have been avoided by raising the circumfer- ential cables above the fabric surface so that there is a continuous flow to the giant water run-off collectors. At the perimeter the radial cables have been connected to catenary cables fixed to twenty- four external anchorage points. The central ‘eye’ of the dome is a 30-metre diameter cable ring contain- ing 500 square metres of openable roof lights, which aid the extract fans in the centre of each mast to ventilate the building. The design of the cable and fabric structures were verified using Buro Happold’s in-house ‘Tensyl’ programme, initially using published wind load data which was later confirmed by wind tunnel testing. For safety reasons the structure has been designed to tolerate significant accidental damage; for example, the support pyramids for the masts can remain stand- ing on just three of their four legs. Only a small proportion of the twelve masts are visible as they plunge skyward through the roof. A myriad of internal cables spring from just above the dramatic 10 metre high pyramidal bases to raise them out of the way of the exhibition structures. It is clear that these cables tension the skin, but their fineness means that they do not obscure the view at all. The huge masts define the vast column free space of the central area, easily large enough to accommodate Wembley Stadium, at that time the UK’s national sporting venue. However, it is not just size that impresses, there has been clear atten- tion to detail. For instance, the shape of the concrete column supports and catenary cables restraints have been carefully thought-out, though they are self-effacing and functional rather than wildly expressive. Cable connectors are also engineering rather than sculptural in feel, though 32 Portable Architecture Figure I.39 UK Millennium Experience Dome, isometric computer drawing.
  • 43. because they are kept to the most economic size, the distant ones have the visual presence of knots in fine twine. The main radial cable stressing points rest above the perimeter masts in the roof, beneath a contrasting area of bright yellow fabric which accentuates their presence and links them visually to the main columns and secondary structural members which are painted the same colour. The internal service areas that contain mechanical equipment, toilets, restaurants, and hospitality are rational steel and glass orthogonal frame structures, kept simple in order to act as foils to the curving dome and the exuberant exhibition structures that will surround the central arena during the exhibi- tion period. The fabric engineering of the dome utilises self-cleansing, long-life Sheerfill PTFE coated glass fibre material by US manufacturers Chemfab. To avoid the problems of condensation an inner lining called Fabrasorb that has acoustic and insula- tive qualities has been used. The Millennium Experience was originally intended on commission to be a series of purely temporary structures. With limited lead-in time, the designers searched for a solution that could be constructed efficiently, erected speedily and would be economic on a cost per square metre basis. Their ambition was to exceed this brief and enclose a vast space with elegance and charisma. Their first-hand experience with lightweight portable structures profoundly influenced the building’s design leading to the selection of a membrane clad structure with prefabricated, dry assembled compression and tension components. Furthermore, their proposal opened up the possibility to circumvent the client’s initial limitations that the building should be disposable and enabled them to build in features that would ensure that it would have a much longer life. Though this life will probably be on the Greenwich site, it is conceivable that it could also be on another, for the architect asserts the dome is capable of being re-erected elsewhere if this is thought to be desirable.25 Regardless of the success or otherwise of the exhibition components erected within the dome, and the events that took place there, the building itself is already identified as a physical legacy of this point in the nation’s history, much in the same way that the Crystal Palace became a part of Britain’s cultural identity in the nineteenth century. The UK Millennium Experience possesses the archetypal image of that quintessential movable pleasure dome the circus – its form, its construction, its structure, perhaps its very existence would not have happened without such historic and contemporary portable architec- ture precedents. Current detailed proposals for the Dome’s future created by sports and entertainments group Anshutz Entertainment Group will turn the building into a 26,000 seat stadium hosting 150 Introduction 33 A B C D E F G H I J K Figure I.40 UK Millennium Experience Dome, section. A, Radial stringer cables continue to ground at 12 No locations around perimeter; B, Typical backstay cable, TP-02; C, Extract fans mounted on mast axis at roof level shown dashed, TP-04; D, Typical hanger cables, TP-02; E, Main steelwork support masts, TP-01; F, Typical hanger cables, TP-02; G, Typical forestay cable, TP-02; H, Central 630- m cable truss independent cladding system; I, Typical radial stringer cables in discrete lengths between hanger connection nodes, TP- 02; J, Mast head detail, TP-01; K, Typical hanger tie-down connection node, TP-01.

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