A temporary world

9th March 2013

Our architectural landscape seems to be changing, blending traditional buildings with more temporary buildings and prefab structures.

Large events see structures built, used by thousands and dismantled in a matter of weeks. The McDonalds on the Olympic Park reigned for just 6 weeks as the largest McDonalds restaurant in the world before being swiftly dismantled and removed. And, although we are lagging behind, prefab homes seems to establishing itself as a solution to many a housing problem.

So, what’s the benefit of temporary buildings and prefab structures and how do they sit alongside our more traditional buildings of bricks and mortar?

Our architectural landscape seems to be changing. Not just the city skylines which now include some more unusual outlines as opposed to the asymmetrical towers, but private and public buildings.

Temporary buildings of every form seem to be taking a semi-permanent place in our residential and commercial streets. The Olympics saw just how quickly and easily a diverse range of temporary structures could be constructed. Although most of these buildings have since been removed, you would have been forgiven to think they were a permanent structure given the size and appearance. The McDonalds comes to mind. It was dismantled and removed once the event was over, but during its short reign as the largest McDonalds in the world, it looked and seemed to perform like a striking piece of modern architecture.

The prefabricated process

Many semi-permanent structures used for public facilities have been built using a process that doesn’t take the traditional route of bricks and mortar. This method provides a fast and flexible solution that enables removal should the building not be required in the future. It also comes with cost savings in ground-works, labour and materials.

Look and you will find

In some cases schools also opt for temporary buildings. These are more cabin type structures and are used as semi-permanent classrooms. With a lot of schools in the country suffering from over-subscription, this is an easy, fast and safe way to open up their doors to more pupils.

Although labelled as prefabricated buildings, housing is now starting to go down this route. The UK is not leading the field in this area but countries like Germany, America and Australia seem to be embracing it as a housing solution that is fast, affordable and green.

Maybe the UK has a long way to go on perception here, with ideas of drab gray post war prefab houses springing to mind. Or, maybe many of us just love our old houses. Watch out though, because original and traditional can sometimes be a smoke screen for an inefficient, tumbling down money pit. It has to be real love if you are going to invest in and maintain these older properties.

You may have seen temporary buildings in supermarket car parks when refurbs are carried out to the main store. They also come into their own in an emergency situation. This could be warehouse fires for UK businesses or emergency war and disaster areas abroad.

Whose winning the war on speed, traditional or temporary?

Although temporary and prefabricated buildings are very fast, traditional architecture seems to be snapping at its heels trying to take these benefits on for itself. Instant architecture is something we are starting to hear about with India, China and America putting up multi-story buildings in weeks, days in many cases.

Prefab, instant and temporary buildings have all the advantages of speed, cost and low environmental impact. And, seem to score high on design and aesthetics. Maybe only time will tell if they stand the test of it or not.

Please comment on your experience of temporary buildings or this blog below.

Read more here for more information on industrial temporary and prefabricated buildings.

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