By Bruce N. Wright, AIA
Pattons, the Australian event structures fabricator, has more than 60 years of experience creating transportable performance venues. Here is the company’s checklist of considerations when designing a portable structure:
- Performance structures need to be engineered to withstand the extreme weather conditions in Australia.
- Structures need to be lightweight — usually of aluminum frame construction commonly used by staging companies. This gives versatility for it to be used in other staging applications.
- Structures must be easily installed by riggers of staging equipment, have a minimal number of parts, be strong and ideally of modular construction.
- The fabric needs to seal the structure from water and light.
- The fabric needs to be tensioned in a way that makes installation quick. This is a challenge when the fabric sizes are limited for handling.
- Fabric usually needs to be fire retardant.
- Fabric should be of a size that can easily be cleaned and maintained, sometimes using marquee cleaning machines.
- The fabric needs to be strong and have good abrasion resistance as the fabric must be robust to withstand multiple use and the poor handling associated with quick set-ups and take-outs.
- Fabric sometimes needs to have blockout and/or reflective qualities.
- Fabric that can be added to and changed with minimal effort is an advantage. A material that can perform a variety of functions will add value to any staging sheet, such as the ability to be both a wall sheet and a roof sheet.
- Design of the structure must incorporate acoustical needs (often using acoustic baffles or using the chosen material). There are many fabrics designed for acoustic management but few if any are currently designed for staging purposes.
- All goods need to be well labeled and transportable within local logistic regulations.