What is portable architecture? It might be a building, a landscape, a sculptural yet usable object or an interior space…. In fact, any human-made environment that is brought into existence in a specific place for a limited time - though its impact may continue for much longer. Unlike conventional buildings, portable ones are designed to take move-ability into account – when their value at a particular place is expended, deployment, rather than destruction, is their key feature. Because of the way in which the world is changing, technologically, socially, economically and culturally, it is probable that flexible, transformable, transportable design is as important now as it was when, in past millennia, the nomadic way of life was the dominant one across the planet.
There are many examples around the world of wonderful, innovative and exciting building designs that have grasped the potential of portability, and yet too many mobile buildings are only adequate for their needs and do not challenge the perceived limitations of buildings of this type. They reduce their spatial and environmental performance thresholds to a level that would not be acceptable in a permanently sited building. The quality of many re-locatable building products has therefore been restricted by a lack of awareness of their potential by both the manufacturer and the user.
The aim of the portable and flexible architecture research led by Professor Robert Kronenburg at Liverpool School of Architecture is to draw together the knowledge present in the skills of designers, builders and manufacturers of flexible and mobile buildings, both past and present as well as from unrelated industries where the possibility of technology transfer has yet to be assessed. Through meeting and discussion, publication and exhibition - the cultural, aesthetic, economic and ecological benefits of portable architecture can be disseminated to those who can realise its full capacity for development.