Temporary Sustainable Structures
Embracing Circular Design Principles

Temporary pavilions and installations used in events, exhibitions or festivals present a significant challenge when it comes to the circular economy in architecture due to their ephemeral nature. It may seem counterintuitive to address resource management and waste reduction while designing structures meant for a limited period of use. However, the issue of wastage in event stands is a significant concern as they are often designed with a short-term focus, leading to high amounts of discarded materials after each event. As sustainable architects, this issue is something we’ve recently begun to explore, recognising the significance of designing temporary structures that can reduce the environmental impact of events, festivals and other temporary developments.

 

Rooi design’s Pavilion 2 an easily disassembled and sustainable temporary structure was designed as a showroom for an exhibition at the 2019 Shanghai International Furniture Fair (Architect: Rooi, Videography: Ming Chen)

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One key approach is to repurpose the components of temporary structures and give them a new life beyond the initial event. Instead of disposing of materials after use, temporary structures can be designed with the intent of reusing them in other contexts or transforming them into new structures. This can be achieved by carefully selecting materials with high durability and versatility, making disassembly and reassembly easier.

Another strategy is to retain the structure itself and redefine its intended use for future events. Rather than building entirely new structures for each occasion, these structures can be reconfigured to accommodate different events or serve multiple purposes, reducing the need for constant rebuilding.

On a larger scale than one-time events, temporary structures are often considered for semi-permanent, small local urban development. Once this temporary use of the site is no longer active, there are opportunities to relocate temporary pavilions and structures to other urban spaces and continue to operate in another community. Repurposing pavilions in this manner revitalises urban areas, fostering a sense of community engagement and sustainable urban development.

Delicately arranged modular cubes are placed on rooftops of city residences to bring back greenery in China’s growing urban areas. (Architects: Zhubo Design, Photography: John SiuYang XuXiaoyan Zeng)

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One prime example of a sustainable, reusable pavilion is the collaboration between OB Architecture and Showblock for the luxury British automotive brand Lanzante. This innovative pavilion, spanning 735sq ft and set across two storeys, was designed with nearly complete reusability in mind. Its cantilevered structure not only provided a space for showcasing Lanzante projects but also served as an exclusive entertainment hub for guests and event attendees.

The Lanzante Pavilion featured at the 2023 Mastercard Goodwood Festival Of Speed (Photography: Brett Charles Photography)

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The Lanzante Pavilion was specifically designed for disassembly, ensuring that nothing goes to waste after the event. All materials and framed modules can be carefully packed away and preserved for reuse at future events. This approach aligns with the principles of the circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, reducing waste and minimising environmental impact.

Through initiatives like the Lanzante Pavilion and the efforts of sustainable architects and contemporary architecture firms, the concept of temporary structures is evolving. Architects bring a unique and holistic perspective to the design of event and temporary structures, making them valuable collaborators alongside product designers and events managers. Our expertise lies not only in creating visually appealing structures but also in understanding the principles of spatial organisation, functionality, and environmental impact.

In conclusion, embracing circular design principles in the creation of temporary structures at events and festivals is essential for promoting sustainability and responsible resource management. By employing innovative strategies such as repurposing components, redefining intended use and considering relocation, architects can minimise waste, conserve resources and contribute to a more sustainable future.