Portable structures: Mount, use, dismount
Although the tent is considered to be one of the most important origins of architecture, in classic architecture, tent construction only plays a minor role. Even today, descriptions such as "portable structures" or "temporary architecture" still emphasise a difference in an attempt to distinguish between the "temporary" tent and the "serious" structure. At the same time, the tent is a prototype of architecture par excellence, as it uses the resources very sparingly. TECE itself uses this kind of portable structure as part of its role as a motor sport sponsor.
The architect Frei Otto revolutionised modern tent construction in the mid-20th Century. He took what had previously been just a wooden frame covered with canvas and evolved it into biomorphic construction forms modelled on naturally occurring structures and yet also on the latest technologies in blimp and hangar construction. His architectural ideal was construction using the minimal amount of materials, space and energy - so less is more, even if that means preferably building nothing when in doubt than building too much. Among his most famous works are the German Pavilion at the Expo 67 World Fair in Montreal, and the tent-like roof on the Munich Olympic Stadium.
An indispensable part of modern event culture
Yet although Frei Otto's works were designed to last permanently, unlike the tent, and were intended as an alternative to classical architecture, they heavily influenced modern tent construction. The design and cutting of tents using CAD technology, the use of synthetic textiles and composite materials can all be traced back to his experiments and work. The way and places in which mobile tents are used have barely changed in the public and commercial sectors over the past two hundred years: at events and festivities in the areas of sport, culture and leisure, in the army, as production or storage facilities for an indefinite period, or for crisis management in the event of natural disasters or migratory movements.
The standards and requirements which set the framework for the tent as a mobile, structural installation, erected on a temporary basis - in other words, the "portable structure" - have changed over time, however. The Model Building Regulations serve as a basis for this and provide the following definition: “Portable structures are structural installations which are suitable and designed for being repeatedly set up and dismantled in different places". Construction site facilities and gantries don't count, whereas show stages, sanitary containers as well as paddocks and sales stands all count, and much more.
To be taken into account during approval:
- State building code
- Administrative regulations on model approvals with list of time limits and guidelines for constructing and operating portable structures
- Decrees of the Supreme Building Authorities of the Federal States
- Approved building documents with test reports
- Test reports for initial or prolongation test
- Special test (if applicable)
- Changes to standards
Which standard is required?
- Tents, membrane structures, lightweight halls: DIN EN 13782 or Eurocodes (EC)
- Stages, stands, show trucks: DIN EN 13814 or EC
- Design of steel or aluminium supporting frames: DIN EN 1090-1, 2, 3 and in the future 4 too
Sharing experiences & expertise
As sponsor of the GT masters race series, TECE itself operates a mobile events and catering tent - the "TECE Cube" - and also assembles and distributes mobile sanitary containers. We are therefore familiar with the requirements from our own experience and during our TECEacademy seminars, we make this expertise available for interested architects and construction engineers. During a specialist seminar at the Hockenheimring race track, the construction director of the Nuremberg Test Institute for Structural Stability, Harald Becker, presented the legal foundations, applicable standards and their application, tests, approvals (installation-specific part) and final acceptance (site-specific part) for portable structures.
Future-proof thanks to more modular structures and prefabrication
With reference to TECE's mobile sanitary container which is suitable as a high-quality quick solution for major events, and contains showers, toilets, urinals and washstands, Becker says: "A modular construction or a complete delivered prefabrication is an advantage where portable structures are concerned. The required quality is guaranteed even under time pressure, planning is facilitated and quick mounting and dismounting are ensured – after all, with many portable structures, it's all about quick assembly and disassembly.” Modern types of production such as prefabrication, modular constructions, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and lightweight, high-strength materials ensure that this archaic form of construction will continue be a mobile companion for humanity in future generations.