top of page

More than a Stand: Pop-Up architecture evolution

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

From Roman theatre to Indian Worm-Library


Temporary Architecture (academically known as "Transient Architecture") refers to short-lived structures or exhibitions for public interaction and engagement. They can be used as experimental sites for new building techniques and materials.

In this post we'll focus on structures that show how temporary architecture evolved throughout history. The buildings we'll show are significant from a Design, Engineering or Cultural perspective. They all contributed to the evolution of temporary architecture.

this isn't in any way a comprehensive academic list and reflects solely the author's preference.


Find out how Exhibitom’s designers use the features which makes these structures Stand Out in our designs.


1. Ancient Theater - Rome, Italy 58 B.C

Until 55 B.C., there was no p

ermanent theater in the city of Rome, and plays were staged in temporary, wooden structures, intended to stand for a few weeks at most.

Pliny (ancient historian) documented a theatre erected by the magistrate M. Aemilius Scaurus. It had a stage-building comprised of three stories of columns and ornamented with 3,000 bronze statues.

*An unfortunate (yet predictable) bi-product of these temporal buildings is the lack of archaeological remains.

  • Temporal structure for gatherings

  • Designed for a specific event in mind

2. Eiffel Tower - Paris, France 1889

What would Paris be without it's Iron Lady? The Eiffel tower was originally built for the 1889 World Fair and planned to be demolished after 20 years. It's height and location made it perfect for the new Radio technology antenna - and that piece of modernism saved it from the faith of all temporal structures.

3. Spacebuster by Raumlador - 2009, USA

A portable dome on wheels - this piece of temporary architecture takes the "event under a tent" concept and elevates it: centuries old concept takes a modern interpretation. "Spacebuster was developed and designed to explore the qualities and possibilities of public space... interacts with the architectural and the social space... It opens urban space" for new uses. (from

photo by Alan Tansey

4. Head in the Clouds - New York, NY, USA 2013

Winner of the 2013 City of Dreams Pavilion contest in New York City. Built as a visual metaphor for cycles of consumption, this project was composed of the number of bottles thrown away in New York every hour.

It shows how plastic waste can be used as a building structure & light source in the modern world - just as the The 1851 Crystal Palace demonstrated how GLASS, when used as a major component in buildings, ca

n illuminate an enormous space without using oil.

  • Recycled materials

  • Power conservation

  • Playfullness

* The "plastic solar bulb", or "The Cheapest light bulb in the world" presumably originated out of Sao Paulo favelas and spread throughout Africa & Asia as a cheap affordable way to bring natural light into closed spaces.

Solar powered light
Liter of Light

5. Cardboard Cathedral - Christchurch New Zealand 2013

“Internationally it is the most recognised building in the country,” (The Guardian, 2014). It is the only cathedral in the world made substantially of cardboard and was designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. He used elements of wood, steel and poly-carbonate.

Ban’s trademark tubes are reminiscent of the bamboo poles used in the traditional Japanese construction techniques - while the modern structure is built to 130% of the current earthquake standard.

The original Anglican cathedral, built more than 100 years ago is still supported by steel structures, a result of the devastating 2011 earthquake. The rebuild of Christchurch was slow, and part of the importance of the new Transitional Cathedral, was that it was the first non-commercial structure to be built in the city centre after the earthquakes.

The Cardboard Cathedral is designed to last for 50 years – never meant to be permanent.

6. Bookworm Pavilion - Mumbai, India 2021

Designed by "NUDES", this 3,600 modular component structure is aimed to encourage reading among youngsters, transforming the "reading hall" into a playful outdoor area. It's made of recycled plywood with low-carbon footprint.

  • Recycled materials

  • Multi function (many uses for the same structure)

  • Re-imagined public space


For more reading:


At Exhibitom we provide a "turn-key" solution for our clients. We are the single point of contact for everything and anything relating to the expo stand, and thus make sure that our design will eventually be built, on site, per our highest standards.


bottom of page