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Inside the World of Temporary Construction

In the traditional construction industry, building a new structure typically spans years—sometimes decades—with the expectation that the building will stand for many more. However, for Sam Whyte, Managing Director of Australian Temporary Structures, the timeline is radically different. Working in partnership with global manufacturing leader HR Structures GmbH, his team constructs complex buildings in mere weeks, designed to be erected and dismantled with remarkable speed and efficiency.

In an interview, Whyte shares insights on the unique benefits of temporary construction and what lessons the broader construction industry can draw from it.

Defining Temporary Structures

What exactly constitutes a temporary structure? For Whyte, it boils down to lifespan. “Temporary construction is only temporary by name. They do have a lifespan,” he explains. “These structures are often erected for events lasting a few days to several weeks or for installations that can last from a few months to many years.”

When a temporary structure is required to stand longer, it undergoes regular updates and modifications to ensure safety and compliance. “These installations are modified periodically, re-permitted as necessary, and they continue to function as temporary setups,” Whyte says.

Even with extended use, these structures are built using temporary construction techniques, facilitating their rapid redesign and dismantling when needed. “The structure is built out of a durable aluminium frame with steel connecting components,” Whyte notes, emphasising the efficiency and robustness of these methods.

Building on a Tight Schedule

A key advantage of temporary construction is the ability to build quickly without compromising on quality. “We’re competing with time,” Whyte says. “This creates constraints that drive us to be more innovative and flexible. We never want to sacrifice the final look and feel of the space, so finding the best solutions for our clients is crucial. That’s the strength of modular construction.”

Unlike conventional construction, which often stretches over long timelines, Australian Temporary Structures operates on an accelerated schedule, with projects often completed in a matter of weeks or even days. “An eight-week project is typical for us,” Whyte states.

Emphasis on Demobilisation

The speed and efficiency of ATS's construction process also extend to dismantling. Whyte explains that a critical focus is on how and when a structure will be taken down, ensuring the process is as seamless as the construction itself.

“We strive to deconstruct and reuse as much as we can,” he says. “Sustainability is a key aspect of temporary structures. Once dismantled, the materials are repurposed for other projects.”

This comprehensive lifecycle approach significantly influences the ATS design-build process. When asked what the conventional construction industry could learn from temporary construction, Whyte highlights the importance of a systems-based approach.

“I believe architecture will evolve into a systems solution,” he theorises. “Future conversations about buildings will focus on speed—how quickly a structure can be built and at what cost. A flexible, pre-designed system that can be repurposed for various needs offers a complete solution.”

With prefabrication, offsite component manufacturing, and other elements of temporary construction gaining traction in mainstream building practices, Whyte and his team at Australian Temporary Structures are ahead of the curve, delivering fast, efficient structures that meet diverse needs.

For companies looking to accelerate their building projects while maintaining environmental consciousness, Australian Temporary Structures offers a compelling solution. Contact them at 1800 86 68 68 or email

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