mobile event tent is an adaptable arts center fostering community access

In response to the evolution of cultural engagement post-pandemic, where a shift towards hyper-local experiences was observed, the Mobile Event Tent (MET) initiative brings ‘culture on the doorstep.’ Realized by Research Design in collaboration with In Certain Places, and Strive 2 Thrive Lancashire CIC, the MET introduces flexible architectural infrastructure to facilitate co-production with local communities, inspired by local needs.

As an octangular mobile arts center, the MET’s primary structure comprises four custom 20 ft high cube shipping containers with side-opening doors. Connected by an internal demountable floor and equipped with access ramps, these volumes provide and entirely accessible space for all. The structure is enveloped in a translucent stretch tent fabric, transforming into a bespoke, adaptable, versatile venue — be it an auditorium with tiered retractable seating for 100 people or a compact twelve-meter square venue. Within, sustainable lighting, utilizing both daylight and low-energy LED sources, illuminate the MET’s translucent outer skin, creating a captivating glowing object in the nocturnal landscape. Patio Sofa Furniture

mobile event tent is an adaptable arts center fostering community access

the Mobile Event Tent installed at University Square, UCLan | image by Charles Quick

Practice Research Design worked alongside community specialists, In Certain Places, and grassroots community organization, Strive 2 Thrive Lancashire CIC to craft the Mobile Event Tent. Additional collaborations with cultural groups across the city guided by artist Jenny Steele resulted in engaging internal wall decorations that reflect Preston’s cultural heritage. The structure itself, designed without the need for specialized machinery or ground anchors, is particularly suited for urban environments, car parks, or school playgrounds. All components are neatly packed into containers for easy relocation, facilitating ease of mobility and efficiency from site to site.

Originating from a dialogue between the client and the design team, the MET responds to the cultural gaps experienced by communities on the city’s periphery. By providing a high-quality mobile arts center, the initiative ensures inclusivity and co-production with the communities it serves. This approach allows the MET to transcend the confines of city centers, reaching neighborhoods with limited cultural opportunities and actively bridging gaps.‘By taking a piece of cultural infrastructure on the road, it reaches out to communities far and wide, bridging gaps and breaking down barriers. It moves beyond the confines of the city centre, venturing into neighbourhoods where cultural opportunities are low,’ notes the design team. By bringing the arts directly to communities of disadvantage, the MET’s collaborative model ensures that everyone has a chance to participate, learn, develop skills, and be inspired. In Ribbleton, on the outskirts of Preston, it hosted 40 free events over 30 days, attracting over 1,000 participants. Events ranged from cinema screenings and performances to dance, skill development workshops, and community meals.

installed at Ribbleton on the periphery of the city | image courtesy of RPT Creative

interior with seats retracted ready for an audience | image by Charles Quick

community afternoon tea for over 100 senior citizens | image by Sachin Rana

performance in front of community artwork by Jenny Steele | image by Charles Quick

realized by Research Design, In Certain Places, and Strive 2 Thrive Lancashire CIC | image by Martin Porter

all components that form the Mobile Event Tent are stored within 4 shipping containers | image by Charles Quick

low-energy LED sources illuminate the translucent outer skin at UCLan | image by Charles Quick

name: Mobile Event Tent (MET) designer: In Certain Places, Research Design, Strive 2 Thrive Lancashire location: Preston, United Kingdom

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edited by: ravail khan | designboom

mobile event tent is an adaptable arts center fostering community access

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