TENT factor

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Several new developments and trends within temporary structures have given the market a shake, and organisers new options…

Goodwood Festival of Speed is a veritable smorgasbord of mechanical delights. The roar of an engine here, the deafening sounds of a speeding motorcar there – it’s a petrol heads dream and a purveyor of all things glamourous and classical. Clean lines, shapely silhouettes and buffed surfaces greet car fans but we are no longer talking automobiles. If you’re looking to see what’s on the market in terms of temporary structures then Goodwood is a great place to start. Over the years, Losberger, Specialist Structures, Mar-Key Group, Owen Brown and De Boer have all housed brands upon the lawns of the Goodwood estate. This year was no exception.

Chichester Canvas provided a tensile canopy to Fiat, so that it could showcase the Fiat 500 by Gucci. The canopy, manufactured from natural cotton canvas and tensioned with brushed stainless steel poles, proved welcome shelter for guests in the Gucci lounge, as the car manufacturer and luxury brand unveiled a city car to Goodwood guests.

Losberger also worked with Tag Heuer at the event to create a mobile boutique complete with marble floors and a watch bar, and also provided 22 separate structures including the Gurney Hospitality Pavilion and tents used for the Moving Motor Show, now in its second year. Nick Edwards, managing director, Losberger, told Stand Out that corporates are spending more of their budget on branding, choosing to print graphics or wrap their structures in a bid to define their message. Tag Heuer’s structure illustrated that too.

“The problem with tents is that they all look the same so how does an end user make it look their own,” said Edwards. “We’re wrapping tents and printing graphics on them more and more because a client can see the benefit in the ideas that we suggest. Suppliers cannot constantly come up with brand new structures for each event.”

That said, Edwards revealed that in November Losberger is to launch a semi-permanent cover aimed at the sports market, as too is Neptunus, which will soon unveil a semi-perm structure for sports halls and retail outlets alongside a new flooring system. Arena’s Grahame Muir has also stated that it will release details of a new double decker structure in November as well.

All three new releases bolster MUTA’s recent news that industry is weathering the economic storm. A survey of MUTA members indicates that more than two thirds (71 per cent) of hirers and more than half (59 per cent) of manufacturers intend to maintain or increase their capital spend over 2011.

It’s a wrap

And what of investment? April Trasler, managing director, Neptunus, says that it is not shying away from investing in product that can be utilised after London 2012. It has been contracted by Prestige Ticketing to provide its hospitality structure for the Games and has also been awarded a contract to build a restaurant facility within the Olympic Park. Many enquiries, she explains, are coming in for Olympic- related work but there will come a point where Neptunus will close its order book and look after regular clients.

Arena, too, has invested £6 million in new kit, both structure and seating products, to be unveiled in Brussels towards the end of November, and like Edwards, Muir suggests that vinyls and graphics are indeed becoming more popular. The descending price of technology is making printed graphics on structures more accessible and, therefore, graphic wraps are good value for money.

It’s a popular trend, which in 2011, appears to have escalated. Trasler refers to it as almost a “craze”, as a result of organisers and end users wanting something different.

Industry is more used to seeing vinyls and graphics on structures at trade events such as Farnborough Air Show yet Doosan opted for a branded exterior at the Open Golf, Sandwich, Kent. It utilised one of Neptunus’ Evolution structures with an external fit out almost as complicated as the internal, states Trasler.

Continuing the trend, Keith Prowse’s Gatsby Club hospitality facility at Wimbledon this year sported a new look – external graphics in the shape of bold window vinyls in green and black, which received mixed reactions, explains Ted Walker, marketing director, Keith Prowse.

It worked with De Boer to create the new facility – more windows gave the space more natural light, larger gardens located at the rear of the facility provided guests with a more exclusive space to relax in and a more modern internal fit-out greeted guests at the tennis championships.

“We continually seek to make improvements,” said Walker. “But the new structure will stay in its current form for next year.”

Keith Prowse worked with Detail to redesign the interior, which boasted clean lines and colour blocking that is very much on trend.

And according to Baconinflate’s managing director, Gary Bennett, the season has been dominated by brands looking to make themselves known.

Festival activity is high and its Q-Bit structure is proving a popular design, giving organisers and end users a great presence on a seven-metre footprint.

Brands can utilise both the upstairs and downstairs spaces, splitting the activities.

The product was launched in 2008 and the design was a bit before its time, suggests Bennett. Now, Sky Arts and LG are each touring with a Q-Bit structure, as is Jack Morton with Hyundai.

Baconinflate was commissioned by Sense Marketing to install the new two-tier seven-metre Q-Bit to help house the best of Camp Bestival in the Sky Arts 3D chill out lounge. Sky Arts Ink Studio caught the festival highlights in 3D and a team of henna tattooists and face painters were on hand to decorate and enhance the festival style.

In with the new

This summer saw two new structures enter the marketplace, both quite striking in terms of the fact that neither comprised a standard white shell. Halo Group unveiled its Halo Connect System at Glastonbury, demonstrating the demand for unusual structures. It works in five-metre bays and is a system more commonly found in exhibition environments. The steel structure has been adapted, marquee technology has been applied and the legs modified to sit off the floor. In 2011, it worked with Love Bullets within Shangri- La to create a 10-metre x 10-metre structure that could house a three-metre bar downstairs, a War Child retail unit and up to 300 people.

Sam Matthews, creative director, Halo Group, explains: “People always look for height at a festival and if they see it it’s where they want to get. Because it’s out of the ordinary. People always make structures from scaffolding or domes and big tops. But domes will always be domes and big tops will always be big tops. This structure can be clad in anything you like, so at Glastonbury it’s covered in reclaimed doors, car bonnets, wood and bark.”

The Halo Connect System has been in development for over a year, Matthews adds. And now it’s launched it is being greeted with much interest. Since Glastonbury it has designed and built Global Gathering’s VIP areas, split into a VIP Woodland experience and VIP Fields.

The Halo Connect System was set as a centrepiece under a new guise as a VIP Clubhouse. Having never used this area before, the VIP Clubhouse offered guests
a new experience. With an exterior design that was sympathetic to its immediate surroundings, using a natural crafted wood for the exterior finish, the Clubhouse housed a cocktail bar downstairs with a DJ, dance floor, full sound system and lighting, and the upstairs was a retreat for social groups, finished off with black chesterfields and a big bean bag chill out terrace.

Also new on the scene, Garsington Opera commissioned a 600-seat pavilion to house a month-long run of operatic performances. This summer saw Garsington Opera move to the Wormsley estate, after 22 years at Garsington Manor.

Garsington Opera instructed architect Robin Snell and, following a competitive tendering process, appointed Unusual Rigging, as main contractor, to manage the design and build project, including fabrication and construction of the pavilion.

Lifted above the ground to give an appearance of “floating” over the landscape, Snell’s design takes its cue from a traditional Japanese pavilion in its use
of sliding screens, extended platforms and verandas to link it to the landscape.

Project manager for Unusual Rigging, Mark Priestley, explains: “We won the project in October, then had until April to co-ordinate the design and build and manage the logistics, including all ground preparation works. The pavilion sits on 100 permanent concrete foundation bases, each of which measures up to three square metres and has an adaptor plate to which the steelwork connects, ensuring an accurate and repeatable set-out each year.

The pavilion has a modular steel frame and an overall expected 15-year life span; it will return to the same position each year, enabling the company to make this investment in demountability.

“Construction of the primary structure and fabric roof took a month, with a further month of electrical, timber and seating fit out. In addition to the supply of rigging, lighting trusses and chain hoists, which is our regular ‘bread and butter’, we supplied, cut and fitted all the timber – three kilometres of oak panelling and 13 kilometres of balau for the hardwood decking, held together with 70,000 screws.

“The pavilion was designed in a modular format, so each piece of the jigsaw was designed and built off-site, then fitted together at Wormsley. Just like a theatre set, each piece is numbered and mapped, so that when it’s deconstructed it can be easily fitted back together next year. And each one can be removed individually so that other pieces can be fitted in – such as elements of a set, or to create trap doors in the stage. We were careful to leave large areas around and underneath the stage area free of structural supporting steelwork, so that the directors can take out panels as they wish.”

Around 145 tonnes of steel make up the pavilion’s frame, and the PVC roof is two skins – a waterproof inner skin, with a PVC mesh 100mm above, so that falling rain drips through silently, rather than hammering the ceiling.

“As far as we know,” continues Priestley, “this solution is unique to the pavilion, and works really well.”

Angus Boyd-Heron, site manager, Garsington Opera, explained that, previously, the opera had the capacity for 200 guests and that a canopy over a stage was all the artists had for cover. This new solution is a more suitable structure for such a grand occasion within the grounds of the private estate where guests can enjoy fine dining from Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts.

Walk this way

Owen Brown also introduced two new products to market this season; peaked roofs are now available on all 12-metre wide Absolute single and multi-deck temporary structures. In addition, a further piece of kit has been added to the Absolute range; three-metre wide Absolute Eclipse temporary walkways are now available, and can be used as canopy walkways or can be upgraded to have doors and hard panels and can be fully lined and lit for more upmarket applications.

GL events Owen Brown managing director, Alex Robertson comments: “When we launched the Absolute in 2009 we were adamant that the innovation would not stop there, over the past two years we have strived to bring out new innovations in line with what the market needs. The 12-metre peak roofs were a great success within the Plaza area at Royal Ascot this year and further sizes will be introduced shortly. The Absolute walkways were first used at the Royal International Air Tattoo and provided elegant sheltered access for their guests. This is such a simple requirement but is so necessary at large events and in the UK’s climate.”

● Stand Out magazine and MUTA have produced the Temporary Structures Guide 2011. It’s an open and honest reference guide, brimming with the latest news, standards and industry updates, and there are contacts galore if you’re looking for a new structure. This guide will introduce you to new ideas and companies with great solutions for your events. The guide is available from www.standoutmagazine. co.uk and www.muta.org.uk