Temporary Structures: Working With Nature

oliver Environmental events, General, Natural stuff


With summer just around the corner, my mind turns to the camping season. It gives me the chance to get outside, be closer to nature and make the most of my fabulous new Bell Tent. But what we are also seeing in the design world is that there is a new found fascination with temporary architecture, challenging our long-held belief in the West that architecture is about robust, solid materials (concrete, brick, stone, steel and glass) and keeping nature firmly out.

Contrary to that idea we’re now seeing an explosion of temporary architecture offering us wonder, delight, joy and perhaps even bringing us closer to nature. For me, this can only be a good thing as it encourages the belief that to live sustainably, we must respect and live with nature rather than see it as something that simply serves our needs.

So, with these ideas in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some fantastic temporary architectural forms popping up this year.


Starting in Italy, design firm Avatar has created this Recycled Pallet Pavilion using the ubiquitous flat wooden structures we so often see discarded. This looks to me like a great upcycled use of a material that would otherwise have been thrown away, not to mention a great place to hang out in the summer.



Heading to (slightly) warmer climes, these prefabricated parabolic camping pods (trying saying that after a couple of glasses of wine) require no air-conditioning, despite being in Australia. Located on a luxury, solar powered eco campsite and surrounded by rich, verdant forest, this is camping at the top end.



This Camper Bike may be a sculptural piece from 2008 but wouldn’t you just love to give it a try? Imagine the looks on people’s faces as you passed them cycling this incredible contraption. I love it, bonkers but brilliant.



Speaking of things you’d love to try, what about this Tentsile tent? Described by its manufacturer as the most versatile tent in the world, you have to admit they’re not wrong. String up its three anchor points and you’ll be up above the ground living like a monkey in the trees. And if, like me, you’ve got little monkeys of your own, they’re bound to love it too.



‘Cicada’, by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande, is a cocoon-like spatial installation in a highly industrial part of Taipei. Beautifully made from woven bamboo it was conceived as ‘urban acupuncture’ for the city. It ‘loosely envelopes an organic volume which responds to the human scale’. It’s certainly a beautiful structure.



If you fancy something a little more comfortable, how about a weekend ‘glamping’ in one of these? It’s a beautifully converted horsebox created by my friends at Wilderness Wood complete with outdoor shower, compost toilet, wood burner, gas stove as well as an outdoor fire-pit and benches, and what a view! It sleeps two adults and two small children- l’il family sized!



Sticking on the ‘glamping’ theme, these Dome Gardens in the Forest of Dean bridge the gap between traditional camping and luxury accommodation. They come with indoor wood burners and even an en suite bathroom, so you won’t have to brave the cold for that early morning trip to the toilet.



And if you want to experience something similar in a stunning location, these Whitepods located in the Swiss Alps make the perfect skiing accommodation.



If walking out of the water, up the beach and straight into your living room sounds appealing then these Lochhouses near Edinburgh are for you. When it comes to getting back to nature, this is about as good as it gets. And when you feel how cold the water of the North Sea can be, having your house so close will definitely be a blessing.



If you’ve ever fantasised about living in the trees then you’re not alone. The designers of Sweden’s Treehotel were thinking along the same lines. In the middle of unspoilt nature, this is a completely unique hotel experience. With amazing views of the Lule Valley and some stunning rooms to choose from, this is the ultimate tree house experience.



From one end of the scale to the other, yet sharing the same basic idea, temporary structures work with nature rather than against it. I think you’ll agree, it’s better to be on the same side.