Pallets have become the basis of a new architectural typology. Inexpensive and readily available, mundane wooden shipping pallets can be transformed from lowbrow shipping equipment into handsome ad hoc structures. The oft-upcycled material is often used to construct temporary structures.
The oft-upcycled material lends itself to festival pavilions and popup structures in particular: Burning Man’s iconic “Tower Babel” comes to mind, but pallets can also be repurposed for all varieties of temporary architecture. At 48 by 40 inches, the standard North American pallet is easily implemented in simple building projects, whether it’s used for flooring, seating, or walls. Here are some examples of pallet-tecture — standardized though they may be, the possibilities are endless:
Recycling Euro pallets (which are slightly smaller than the North American version, at 1.2 by 0.8 meters) and arranging them into a sculptural structure, Rotunda of Reveries was a temporary cost-effective event space for the London Pleasure Gardens.
The Uninhabited Pavilion was erected as part of the 2012 Transmedia “Uninhabited” project. Exhibited for seven days, visitors to the temporary structure found themselves in an audio-visual environment where the short film Uninhabited was screened.
For New York Design Week 2012, Core77 editors curated a five-day exhibit showcasing 35 designers from all five boroughs. The exhibition design by Laurence Sarrazin featured plinths and interior walls made from some 300 pallets, topped by masonite boards.
The Urban Coffee and Brew Bar was constructed for the Melbourne Food and Wine festival in celebration of the 125 coffee trees planted by the Yarra River. Shipping containers, timber pallets, and packing crates are representative of the lifecycle of coffee beans, from the tree to the cardboard coffee cups that carry the caffeinated ambrosia to its final destination.
UBRANTAINER designed the exhibition space Nike Platform Project for the International Basketball Association World Championship in a defunct shipyard. Wood pallets, concrete blocks, construction scaffolds, and safety fences became the canvas for a variety of events including a basketball competition, seminars, exhibitions, live graffiti performances, and parties.
Constructed for the 2009 Burning Man festival, the tower functions as a ladder-accessible deck by day and as an illuminated lounge by the night. The modular pallets are arranged in a hexagonal geometry inspired by the cells of a beehive honeycomb.
Kernel Festival Installations by Gianluca Milesi, Desio, Italy
As a temporary installation for the Kernel Festival, iron-rod structures — “The Shadows” and “Mosquito” — were imaginatively constructed with parametric geometry and LED lighting powered by photovoltaic panels. Wooden pallets transformed into deckchairs for visitors to watch musical performances.
The Hedonist was one of the 20 temporary ‘Hotel ShabbyShabby’ rooms in Theater der Welt festival. Providing a unique experience for guests with panoramic views of the natural landscape, this hotel room was constructed with recycled materials under a €250 budget.
The Diversion Design-build project was constructed by a small team of students at the Portland State University School of Architecture for the annual Pickathon Music Festival. High experimental impact with low environmental impact translated into a prefabricated, modular performance space composed of wooden shipping pallets.