5 Types Of Temporary Architecture: Material, Construction, And Uses

“Nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles” advised Charlie Chaplin, once upon a time. Why is this quote taken up? 

Well, while the architecture community is fixated on permanent structures, that last till the age of time, it is unwise to not consider temporary structures. The structures that aid construction, provide housing for short durations, provide on-site services, etc, can be classified as temporary structures. The structures that can be transported as a whole come under this category too.

Temporary structures help fulfill our immediate and short-term needs and are useful due to the following factors:


  • Temporary structures are made out of easily available locally, or even scrap material.
  • They do not require additional maintenance, which reduces cost.


  • Temporary structures can be designed to suit the specific need of the user.
  • They can be treated to comply with functional and aesthetical needs.


  • The structure is most commonly a lightweight structure, and can thus be transported from site to site.

Having seen why temporary structures cannot be overlooked, it is now time to find out the types of temporary structures, their use, and the materials they require.

Types of Temporary Structures

Alternative Accommodation

  • These structures provide accommodation when a building is being refurbished or renovated.
  • They are usually made of prefabricated material such as concrete blocks, or concrete walls.
  • They are dismantlable and reusable.

Public/Special Events Structure

  • These temporary structures can be tents, marquees, and pavilions.
  • They are erected for a short period of time for any events that occur, to provide shelter for the visitors, or be a piece of attraction.
  • A famous example is of the Serpentine Pavilion, in Hyde Park, London.
  • The pavilion is a site for architects to display their designs. 
  • A temporary structure designed by an architect is constructed, every year, and it is left to be viewed by visitors for 5 months.
Serpent Pavilion Structure of 2022

Housing and Services for Workers

  • The structures built or kept on site for the workers to live in during the construction period, come under this category.
  • They are the space provided for the basic facilities of shelter, sanitation, food preparation, and rest.
  • They are usually constructed out of metal sheets and are prefabricated to a specific design requirement.
  • The housing can be transported from one site to another.

Structures that Aid Construction

  • These structures provide safe working conditions for workers, on a construction site.
  • They help workers access the various parts of a building without risks.
  • They also aid in the construction itself.
  • These structures are of the following types:
    1. Formwork
      • Formwork is the structure used for concrete molding.
      • It is most commonly made of timber.
      • Other materials used are plastic, steel, aluminium, and plywood.
      • The concrete is poured into a mold made out of this material.
      • The formwork is then removed after the concrete has set and hardened.
      • Formwork is classified into Shuttering and Centering.
      • Shuttering is the vertical formwork, used for columns primarily. 
      • Centering is the horizontal formwork, used or beams and slabs.
      • Formwork should be able to withstand the dead and live loads, to maintain the structural integrity of the concrete.
  1. Scaffolding
    • Scaffolding is the temporary structure used as a support for workmen.
    • Scaffolding is primarily made of timber.
    • It is used during the construction or repair of buildings.

 Portable Private Housing

  • Those who travel long distances using private transport, require housing on their journey.
  • While many prefer paying for lodging, there are those who carry a mobile house.
  • These houses are maybe in-built with vehicles such as Recreational Vehicles (RVs) or tethered to the vehicle and transported.
  • They are equipped with basic facilities such as a bedroom, toilet, and kitchenette.
  • There is high-range housing that is additionally provided with a bathtub, entertainment systems, and a full-range kitchen.
Interior of a Luxury RV 

Whatever may be the type of temporary structures, it must be admitted that they are indispensable. Our lives have been directly affected by the structures discussed above. A moment’s thought will help us appreciate them.

With the world advancing leaps and bounds, so should the auxiliary technology, to aid in faster progress. The temporary structures used today are rudimentary in design and follow the practice of the past century. A question does arise- Can the same be followed, or do we need to evolve and renew for the future?

5 Types Of Temporary Architecture: Material, Construction, And Uses