People have evolved with time, and the changing trends have affected lifestyle and living. Living in castles or bungalows, once a dream is being replaced by a more flexible and minimalistic approach. The nomadic life of an individual allows them to migrate to different places; this brings in the need for portable or mobile structures which are easy to assemble and transport. They could support various activities and use while still being easily functional. It is equipped with all the necessities and services that ease living. Nomadic architecture has emerged in recent years, encouraging safe and comfortable travel while having private accommodation in the form of portable pods, containers etc. It also brings in the need for research to cater to the demands of people who want a minimalistic approach towards living.

What makes a structure portable? - Sheet1
Dymaxion House, 1945_©

Emergence of Portable Architecture

“…houses must go up all of a piece, made by machine tools in a factory, assembled as Ford assembles cars, on moving conveyors belts”- Le Corbusier. This new perspective towards architecture bought in new inventions in the concept of portable. Buckminister Fuller was the first American architect to have a futuristic approach towards designing a portable structure that was called Dymaxion House, a sustainable autonomous single-family dwelling, the living machine of the future that could have been mass-produced, flat-packaged and shipped throughout the world. A brand-new tradition of portable architecture, specifically residential architecture, is starting to take shape. It mixes post-industrial aesthetics, contemporary materials, and conventional design methods. All of such ideas present brilliant new prospects for architecture and, along with it, for ways of living since they are compelled to break with tradition and reexamine the basics of static design.

What makes a structure portable? - Sheet2
UNI-Urban Neighborhood Institution_©Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP

Reach of Portable Architecture

In the 21st century, portable structures have seen various changes to materials, forms and function. It is widely used in varying sizes from small kiosks to a dwelling and in use from residential to commercial. Portable brings in a concept of unlimited compositions of a well-designed module which can be adaptable with time and function. The materials used are pretty flexible, durable and lightweight which brings ease to the mobility of such structures. Some portable structures are expandable structurally, which can accommodate extra space required for a certain activity. During the pandemic covid, the major requirement was ‘isolation’ spaces and portable structures were a quick solution to it. It can be easily assembled and disassembled.

What makes a structure portable? - Sheet3
Blob vB3_©dmvA

Benefits of Portable Architecture

Portable structures have the following advantages-

  • Cost-Effective

It works within the budget whether a temporary tent structure is necessary for a scheduled event or in case of an emergency. Portable buildings in contrast to permanent space, are inexpensive yet provide a reliable solution. Without the high expense, they provide all the advantages of a permanent indoor space.

  • Flexible in Shape, Size and Form

Portable structures are made to be customizable. To avoid wasting space or having too little room, one might design it to be the size they require. Most individuals settle and attempt to make the most by using the available space. Additionally, if changes are required after the structure has been constructed, enlarging is not a problem at all.

  • Fast Installation and Removal

Portable structures are made of such materials that make them easy to assemble and disassemble with the need and alterations required. 

  • A Multitude of Available Accessories

All individuals have access to flooring, lighting, sidewalls, warehouse doors, entry and exit doors, and more. Even restrooms and climate control are options. Since it is tailored to an individual’s needs, the temporary apartment might seem exactly like a permanent one. The best options for one are movable structures and temporary buildings, which have advantages like structurally strong construction, quick installation, and quick customizability. 

  • Durable Construction

Most people assume that a portable, temporary, or fabric tent structure is a flimsy option that would not be able to provide you with the same level of protection as a more permanent one. This presumption would be incorrect. These portable buildings are made to adhere to highly tight wind loads. They can keep everything secure inside no matter what is happening outside because they are made to endure all types of bad weather. These are a good choice because of their sturdy build. 

Dome of Visions_©Studio of Tejlgaard & Jepsen

A structure made to move, portable or mobile in nature becoming quite a trend in present and future. It meets the demands and needs of an individual and this can be achieved in a minimal space with minimal resources. The progressive world and nomadic life have bought in demand for small spaces catering to daily routine and a particular use as well which can be attained through the portable structure. Additionally, producers have the option of preassembling them and shipping them to the installation locations. Because of this, the steps of acquiring and installing portable buildings might take significantly less time than erecting permanent ones. The flexibility of such structures might help in various innovative ideas throughout the architecture.


  1. Dymaxion House, 1945. [Photoghraph]
  2. Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP. UNI-Urban Neighborhood Institution. [Photoghraph]
  3. dmvA. Blob vB3. [Photoghraph]
  4. Studio of Tejlgaard & Jepsen. Dome of Visions. [Photoghraph]

Online sources

  1. Gili Merin. “AD Classics: The Dymaxion House / Buckminster Fuller” 09 Feb 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Oct 2022.> ISSN 0719-8884
  2. Cerrahoglu, Merve & Maden, Feray. (2020). A Review on Portable Structures. 

Vanishya Vasanth is an architectural graduate and an enthusiastic writer. She writes to remember, gaining knowlege with every word. You will find her sketching and doodling her thoughts dreaming of a self-sufficient and sustainable world ahead.