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Ascot designs and delivers solution for Portsmouth’s Oktoberfest

Posted by MT_ascot

Ascot Structures was approached by the production team behind Portsmouth’s Oktoberfest in mid-September having realised that the project was more complex than originally thought. Our first site visit was on 30th September, less than 4 weeks before the event was due to take place. We identified the challenges and gained a full understanding of the client’s objectives:

  • Design a structure that was sympathetic to the venue’s existing architecture.
  • Incorporate the in-situ steps and statue to create an amphitheatre.
  • Maximise the space available to meet the requirements of their license, as the event was a sell-out allowing no room for flexibility.
  • Create clear site lines and a clear view from the top of the steps, across the site, to the stage on the bottom level.

The event site itself presented multiple challenges for the Ascot team that had to be factored into the design:

  • The site is located directly in front of Portsmouth Guildhall and council offices and is a main thoroughfare within the City
  • The area allocated for the bar was situated above an underground car park and the council was only prepared to allow 0.5 tonnes per sqm, as there were no official calculations.
  • A wind model flagged up a vortex within the area, that had to be factored into all calculations.

Further site visits were conducted with structural engineers and representatives from Portsmouth Council’s building control team.

The 0.5 tonnes per sqm weight loading specified by the council was vastly insufficient and incapable of taking the weight of the tent. We carried out a series of tests and subsequent calculations, with the assistance of our structural engineers, to prove and document that the floor could take greater weight. 

The solution that we designed was the erection of three separate tents:

  • 10m x 40m A-Frame on a 3m leg for the bar
  • 18m x 40m Polygon on a 4m leg, incorporating the architecture and scenery where appropriate
  • 20m x 40m A-Frame on a 4m leg for the stage

Further challenges presented themselves from the outset, on the first day of build there was wedding for 600 people being held in the Guildhall and the Great South Run. Work had to begin immediately if the structures were going to be ready in time for the event. To solve the issues we created a 5 metre thoroughfare around the event site.

Other interesting elements of the project included the removal of paving stones above the car park and the demounting of flag poles, that would have impeded the build. When the project came to an end, the town centre was returned to its previous state within three days, a day ahead of schedule.

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