Engel & Völkers
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What does ephemeral architecture mean

Not every construction is destined to last over time, as it is also common to erect buildings or structures to remain only for a certain period of time a certain period of time. In fact, in projects of this kind it is possible to learn interesting and valuable lessons about the use of new materials and about aspects related to sustainability. In addition, it provides a series of ideas that can later be applied to permanent buildings. This type of architecture is called ephemeral architecture, the concept of which is explained in more detail below.

Definition of ephemeral architecture

Ephemeral architecture is architecture that focuses on the creation of constructions that respond to the needs of a specific moment. In other words, they are not designed to last, but rather to provide an efficient response while they remain standing. Therefore, the purpose of this type of architecture may be diverse: events or exhibitionstemporary housing and infrastructures for emergency situations, among other purposes.

The design of ephemeral spaces allows each project to deploy greater creative freedom, as well as offering the possibility of temporarily altering the environment surrounding this type of construction. In most cases, they are built on the basis of perishable structures, which disappear in the short term due to the expiry of the materials, or they are dismantled once they have met their specific needs.

Ephemeral architecture has been used by man since ancient times, when it was linked, above all, to celebrations of various kinds. It had its greatest splendour during the period of the Baroqueit had its greatest splendour during the Baroque period, since it allowed porticoes, triumphal arches, pavilions, pavilions, triumphal arches, temples or street altars to be erected in an eventual and simple manner, respecting the style of that particular period.

Ephemeral architecture examples

Having clarified the definition of ephemeral architecture, it would be interesting to point out some paradigmatic examples of this type of temporary constructions which, although they were conceived at the time to disappear, some have managed to go further and have remained in time due to various circumstances.

Ice houses condemned to disappear in the face of seasonal changes, cultural enclosures, large structures that have become symbols recognised around the world, and infrastructures for sanitary purposes are some of the examples based on the design of ephemeral spaces.

Huoshenshan Hospital

The pandemic of the coronavirus pandemic has recently brought ephemeral architecture back into the global limelight. Built in the city of Wuhan, this hospital has been called the Chinese "miracle", as it was built in just ten days, thus astonishing the whole world. In this case, the hospital has also served as propaganda for the Chinese political authorities, who have ensured that the media have echoed the speed with which the Chinese government has acted to try to alleviate the epidemic. It is not the only hospital that has been quickly and diligently set up in China Xiaotangshan Hospital (Beijing) was built in just seven days during the SARS crisis in 2003.

Serpentine Pavilion

Congresses and cultural exhibitions have often made use of ephemeral spaces. A clear example is the famous Serpentine Gallery in London, where every year a temporary pavilion is built in Kensington Gardens. The peculiarity of this temporary work is that each year the organisation commissions the construction to an internationally renowned architect or designer. Among others, Jean Nouvel, Peter Zumthor, Sou Fujimoto or the Madrid-based SelgasCano have taken charge of the project. More ephemeral architecture examples:

Eiffel Tower

Many probably do not know that the famous Eiffel Tower, France's most famous construction, was erected with the idea of being demolished twenty years later. However, Gustave Eiffel managed to get this impressive meccano, built for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1887, "pardoned". He used the pretext that the tower could be put to scientific use given its height and design: physics experiments, astronomical and meteorological observations, communication post and strategic observation post, among other purposes. It can therefore be said that science saved this 300-metre-high construction, which has become the main symbol of Paris, from demolition Paris and France.

Ephemeral pavilion "yesterday you said tomorrow"

In 2016, San Sebastian was named European Capital of Culture. Tipi Studio, Zuloark and Alberto Rey collaborated to build a spectacular pavilion in the form of an assembled chrysalis with a highly original and futuristic image. This space was not only ephemeral; when Donostia ceased to be European Capital of Culture, the pavilion was broken down into 278 benches (seats) and distributed around the city as permanent street furniture.

Ephemeral architecture in Madrid

In the Spanish capital it is possible to study for a Master's Degree in Ephemeral Architecturespecifically at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The aim of these postgraduate studies is for students to obtain specialised learning that will enable them to carry out projects of varying complexity related to ephemeral architecture and temporary installations of different scales, from their planning to their subsequent management and execution.
This learning is carried out through various training courses and their corresponding areas of knowledge, which highlight the multidisciplinary approach of this Master's Degree. In addition, new resources and tools are used to enrich and complete the teaching experience. Ephemeral architecture in Madrid:
- Use of a practical and face-to-face methodology through workshops, so that students learn through practical and in situ teaching. Prior to the practical work, the students receive the corresponding theoretical teaching that allows them to confront real-scale projects.
- Continuous documentation process during all the tasks carried out in the workshops, as a tool that serves to reflect the work carried out, subsequently allowing the methodology used and the results obtained to be evaluated and disseminated.
- Guided visits to exhibitions and different sites closely related to the didactic modules. For example, to workshops, companies and architects' and artists' studios, with the aim of verifying the mechanics of the different construction processes.
- Additional activities such as meetings with experts in the sector, as well as attendance at events related to the training programme, thus providing a more extensive and detailed vision in the field of ephemeral architecture.
- Internships in different fields, such as project studios, institutions and companies. This contributes to improving and extending the learning methodology related to the objectives and didactic contents of the Master's in Ephemeral Architecture.
- The academic training is carried out by a group of permanent lecturers, although there is also occasional participation of guest lecturers of recognised prestige in their speciality.

If you are passionate about architecture and you are interested in the real estate sector, we encourage you to join our team of freelance collaborators in Madrid .

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