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Moveable Feats

(March 2017) posted on Mon Mar 13, 2017

Here today, somewhere else tomorrow. Speed (and vivid visuals) are of the essence for some of the most buzzworthy pop-up structures of 2017 and beyond.

By Oriana Lerner

click an image below to view slideshow

That’s upping the ante on the entire design process. “To today’s guest, especially millennials, the simple reality or illusion of the novelty of a temporary structure is no longer a main attraction,” says Lars Krückeberg, founding partner of Berlin-based multidisciplinary firm Graft. “They are demanding enhanced and eye-catching elements surrounding the identity of a pop up—including design and architecture.”

AC Hotel Oklahoma City
AC Hotel Oklahoma City's tight footprint made modular construction for its guest room floors a no-brainer. Installing FF&E pre-delivery gives operators tighter quality control than traditional methods. Photo: Courtesy of NewcrestImage

Layering in digital technology is one tactic for giving such projects an aesthetic punch. For Guto Requena, founder of his eponymous São Paulo-based architecture firm, it’s time for a radical rethink on what pops in a pop up. For example, for the Dancing Pavilion at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Requena and his team covered the outside of the structure with mirrors synced to the movements of partygoers inside.

Daxesh Patel. Photo: Courtesy of NewcrestImage

“The new order is, dematerialize,” Requena says. “The biggest challenge is how to be more sustainable with temporary installations. I’m trying to use fewer physical elements (glass, wood, etc.) and more digital technologies such as mapping projection, sensors or LED lights. These can be easily rented or reused after. As a result, we generate less garbage in the end.”

Dacing Pavilion
Multiple colors on the Dancing Pavilion suggest diversity. Mirrors are programmed to react to the dancers inside. Photo: Fernanda Ligabue and Rafael Frazão

In a similar vein, Miller says improvements in construction methods, such as CNC cutting, help reduce waste. But, he also says it’s time to look at less high-tech ways to boost sustainability.

Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit and Lars Krückeberg, Graft. Photo: Ali Kepenek

“We try to source materials with a high level of recycled content and we also try to use local materials in our work to minimize transportation costs. For the Pop Up Cave Hotel project, we used locally sourced sheep’s wool insulation that is biodegradable once it is no longer required, as opposed to standard rigid board insulation which is not recyclable and would still need to go to a landfill.”

Designers also need to think about the afterlife of single-use buildings. “Given the importance of decommissioning, the use of materials that are 100 percent recyclable at the end of the building’s life will also become more prevalent,” says Miller. Developments in technology, such as synthetic fibers, allow for lighter, more efficient construction.

Cave Hotel
Details like the curving accent walls in the Pop Up Cave Hotel add drama to the architectural shell without adding to the carbon footprint of the structure. Photo: Courtesy of Miller Kendrick Architects

It’s not just a question of recycling. More and more of tomorrow’s modular and pop-up spaces have to be durable enough to be moved for another life in another place. “We see the evolution of temporary structures to be less about the design of a single finished product and more about the construction of a kit-of-parts which can be easily erected, moved and adapted to respond to a changing market,” says Miller.

“With the BRLO BRWHOUSE, we designed a space that functions as a mobile investment: It is modular and can easily be set up in a different location,” says Wolfram Putz, founding partner, Graft.

Cave Hotel
For temporary projects, careful front-end prep is key—think extensive modeling before on site work starts. Photo: Courtesy of Miller Kendrick Architects

“In this particular case, the operator has the option of making the architecture more permanent later on,” adds Thomas Willemeit, another of Graft’s founding partners, who also notes that in most places in Europe, any building designed with a lifespan of less than five years isn’t subject to the same regulations as a permanent structure. Patel adds that for modular construction, it’s critical to work closely with local jurisdictions and building departments. “It also helps to hire a third-party inspector,” he says.

Forget about that sea of tents at Coachella. Designers need to think faster (up to six months faster than a traditional timeline for projects like the AC Hotel) to wow both guests and clients. No second chance for a first impression, indeed!


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