Making a marq

Stand Out discovers some creative examples of marquee use and learns what’s new for 2010…

As Stand Out writes, satellite weather images show the UK blanketed in snow. It’s one of the worst winters the country has witnessed for years. So bad in fact that events such as the National Motorcycle Show, Manchester, have been cancelled.

Travel conditions were deemed too hazardous, with its show director Howard Cartledge revealing that the organisers were not prepared to risk both exhibitors and visitors travelling to Manchester Central. Forty-five exhibitors are cited as being snowed in at home, and while enormous efforts have been made to go on with the show, it was believed to be just too dangerous.

Yet despite the adverse effects that the weather has had on some events and exhibitions, other organisers are battling through the snow, building exhibition halls on snowy ground and making contingency plans for snow clearance and removal.

Cliff Preston, sales and marketing director, of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (LAMMA) show, explained that the two-day event is not insured against bad weather. Determined for the show to go ahead in less than two weeks, and with pressure from exhibitors to keep the event running, Newark Showground is currently a hive of activity with over 12,000 square metres of tentage being erected.

Preston, who has been working on the show for the past seven years, has seen the show’s popularity grow exponentially – from 140 stands during his first year to 620 in 2010. The event has taken over from the Royal Smithfield Show as the leading agricultural event, says Preston with the last five years seeing visitor figures rise by almost 4,000 to 35,000 in 2009.

Said Preston: “The show has been running for 29 years, and we didn’t use to have marquees. Everyone had to use the existing buildings on the showground or exhibit outside. Marquees have played an important part in the show, offering an exceptional and flexible space all floored and heated.”

The show sees farmers, contractors and amenity professionals within agriculture and its associated businesses gather; exhibitors and visitors from Slovenia, France and Sweden are set to attend the 2010 event, making it an international event and a far cry from the show its name suggests – a show for Lincolnshire machinery manufacturers.

Northern Marquees held the previous contract for show tentage yet for the past three years GL events Snowdens has supplied LAMMA with marquees. This year will see Snowdens erect 12,500 square metres of aluminium framed marquees and Premier Pavilions, ranging from six to 25 metres wide and up to 165 metres long. In terms of tentage, the 2010 event is 20 per cent larger than 2009, commented John Goode, account director at Snowdens.

“Much of the agricultural world goes to specialised events rather than agricultural shows. LAMMA is selling space so fast it can’t keep up. In fact, one of the exhibition halls has just been increased by five metres from 160 to 165 metres long.

“Newark Showground is a nice site to work on. It’s an old airfield and very exposed and so the wind blows a lot but we have experience of putting up with it,” he laughed.

A crew of 24 is currently laying the foundations for the two main exhibition arenas in the centre of the showground, each measuring 25 metres wide. Five main structures and six smaller marquees comprise just some of the 200 tonnes of tentage that has travelled to the site on seven artic trucks.

The site layout has remained relatively unchanged, except for two structures that have moved to accommodate their increase in size.

“The bigger you get the more likely you have to change,” concluded Preston.


Cool solution

According to Richard Thornton, sales manager of Danco, 2010 means more hard work for the event market, and he is anticipating a pretty tough year ahead with slight recovery from the corporate sector.

The Bristol-based company has recently installed a marquee for the bmibaby Cardiff Winter Wonderland, an attraction which, contrary to recent weather events, encourages visitors to get upclose and personal with the ice.

Danco was briefed to provide a platform for an 800 square metre skating rink, with a large viewing terrace, a covered café and skating hire area. All of this had to be erected within 30 metres of the City Council head quarters and spanning a large water fountain, which is 18m x 12m and over 1.4m deep. Danco’s solution was to provide a 25m x 15 marquee for the bar and café area and a 30m x 15m for the skate hire and ticket office, plus a large multi-floor platform to provide a solid base for the rink and some of the marquees. The marquees were erected on a mixture of cassette style flooring and a multi-floor platform, which was able to provide a flat surface and span the deep water feature using adjustable legs that drop to the base of the pond.

New developments

This year, Danco is launching a cross between a traditional marquee and a circus tent that is available at 40 or 80 metres wide. Externally the marquees will look like a traditional circus tent with distinctive patterns. Internally, Danco has incorporated some new design ideas that it hopes will make them an attractive proposition for many event organisers that currently use circus tents.

Explained Thornton: “Our research suggested that whilst the height of the roof can be beneficial in certain scenario’s in many cases the height can detract from the atmosphere by making the structures more difficult to light, combined with the lack of hanging points this can make this task particularly tricky especially when being used for dance events. In our design we have kept the traditional ridge pole to enable easier installation of lighting rigs and there will also be king and queen poles that can be utilised for clamping lights. The roof will be made of black out fabric that is white inside and has been designed to maximise lighting effects within the structure.

“The marquee will have an eave height of three metres and although the additional interior poles won’t suit every use we believe that the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages in the majority of cases. We expect to see these marquees across the UK at many events this summer.”

The Structure Group TSG) is also beginning the year in positive fashion by launching a 17-kilo newton flooring system for equine purposes. The system, which will be available in the spring, will mean that equine events will be able to be staged anywhere as the floor will provide the base for large temporary structures big enough to house these types of events.

TSG has several projects planned for 2010 including the provision of the running tracks for the Nova International City Games in Manchester and Newcastle as well as working in Qatar and Kenya, where it will be building temporary structures for a variety of applications.

It recently came to the aid of street artist Edgar Mueller, who broke the world record for the world’s biggest 3D pavement art featuring the characters from the movie Ice Age. To enable Mueller to achieve his record TSG supplied and erected a structure over the top of 330 square metres at the Westfield Centre, London, with a clear roof to provide the natural light needed to create a true colour likeness. To counteract the stormy forecasted weather the structure was weighted down to provide a secure working environment.

In addition, TSG was also able to source and supply a specialist projector to enable Mueller to cover the 20 metres of span from a height of four metres. Once the structure and the projector were in place, it took Mueller six days to create his 3D cartoon magic featuring Manny, Buck, Sid, Diego and Scratte edging over an icy crevasse.

Choose your moment

As Mar-key Group gear up for a busy 2010 providing temporary venues at Syon House and the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), which will be kept up over the summer months, Tony Marsh, chairman of MUTA, suggests that on an international stage, industry is entering an exciting year for marquees and temporary structures.

“With both the World Cup and the Winter Olympics on the not-too-distant horizon, our products are going to be increasingly visible,” said Marsh. “Undoubtedly, we should capitalise on the opportunities that present themselves throughout 2010, delivering innovative, imaginative and practicable solutions for our clients. In equal measure, on a national UK stage, 2010 presents real challenges across all disciplines of tents, marquees and temporary structures. We don’t expect to see large volumes of new hire equipment entering the marketplace, as client demand remains suppressed.

Nick McLaren, managing director of Piggotts, revealed that in 2009 it saw sales increase for its 20-25-metre wide marquees as client’s required them for events such as Run to the Beat at the O2 and the NFL Tailgate party at Wembley.

In 2010, it will take stock of glass door canopies and offer these to clients as alternatives to the conventional material-based marquee fronts.

Until March, a Piggotts marquee, with the capacity to hold 400 guests, will stand at The Roof Gardens, Kensington High Street. In order for the gardens to be used effectively during the winter season, Piggotts installed a marquee, which has been in situ since October. It’s available as an events space for corporate functions, private parties and club nights.

The Roof Gardens Halloween party was one of the first events to be held in the marquee, which located in the venues Tudor Garden. The interior was dressed with drapes and Halloween ornaments including ghosts, witches, and bats. Other events followed in the run-up to Christmas including an X-Factor style “Lucky Voice” karaoke night, Apres Ski party and a Winter Wonderland Christmas package.