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How A London Landmark Inspired The Event Tent

Large canopies, marquees and industrial tents have become an increasingly common sight in several different industries, in no small part due to a greater prioritising of sustainability and flexibility.

Arguably the tipping point for this came with the creation of the world’s biggest dome, one of the

biggest tent structures in the world and one of the most divisive and troubled construction projects in British history.

Designed by architect Sir Richard Rogers, the Millennium Dome was meant to be to the third millennium what Crystal Palace was to Victorian England crossed with what the Dome of Discovery was to the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Whilst it resembled the latter, it was supposed to be as technologically revolutionary and long-lasting as the former was meant to be before it caught fire and burned to a crisp in 1936.

The Millennium Dome technically is not a dome despite its name and its general shape, but instead was an arrangement of lightweight supports suspended from 12 main masts, which more closely resembled a tent and highlighted the versatility of such structures.

Whilst derided at the time for its minimalist design and an emphasis on practicality and was heavily assumed to be a temporary structure rather than the London landmark it became, it also highlighted a change in how large-volume events handled their infrastructure requirements.

Particularly after its second life began as The O2, the criticisms about The Dome’s initial lack of success and the belief that it would be a temporary structure the way the Dome of Discovery was started to wane somewhat.

Part of this was the fact that the Dome still exists and is still successful to this day, but also because by starting a conversation about temporary structures in the first place, it ended up being an accidental trendsetter.

Festivals and major events such as the Olympic Games used to have a reputation for having huge numbers of permanent structures that would be simply taken down at the end of the event.

This was most infamously seen with the 2004 Athens Games and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

With a greater focus on sustainability, most major events have several large-scale, fully featured temporary structures instead.

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