Temporary Demountable Structures

The Advisory Group on Temporary Structures (AGOTS) has prepared edition four of Temporary Demountable Structures on behalf of the Institution of Structural Engineers. Since 1985 previous editions have been the chief source for guidance on the procurement, design, and use of temporary demountable structures in the UK.

What are demountable structures?

Demountable structures are widely used for a variety of functions at public and private events and can be found at exhibitions, sporting events, musical concerts and social occasions. Some may carry substantial numbers of people during major events and structural safety is extremely important.

The Olympic Games in London in 2012 saw the largest number of temporary structures ever used at a single event, and using the third edition of this Guide was one of the core requirements of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). Since then the industry has seen a number of regulatory changes and the introduction of Eurocodes. The fourth edition embraces these.

What is in the new version of Temporary Demountable Structures?

Detailed recommendations are given for grandstands, stages and special structures. There is a section on fabric structures and further advice on ancillary and special structures to support lighting equipment, video screens, loudspeakers, and the like.

The Guide is based on practice in the United Kingdom and Europe but the principles described are appropriate for application elsewhere. It is also intended for clients, event organisers and venue owners, designers, regulatory and local authorities, as well as contractors and suppliers of demountable structures. It is concerned with the structural safety and adequacy of demountable structures used for temporary purposes and also with the overall planning and management of events.

This is the most comprehensive document that is available concerning the procurement, design, and operation of temporary demountable structures. There have been a number of serious failures of these in recent years, some resulting in loss of life, so steps to improve the safety of spectators, performers, and operatives is to be welcomed.

The temporary structures industry differs from that of permanent structures in that it is much more fluid. At many events there are short timescales for the whole design and construction process. Responsibilities may be divided with no clear chain of command and regulations are complex. A temporary stage may be erected for a small event, the performance held, and the structure dismantled within a few days. Large events usually have a formal management process in place but there are still anomalies with control and with quality assurance.

Another difference with more traditional buildings is that imposed loads from people and wind are relatively high in proportion to dead load. There is more dynamic behaviour involved and different hazards to be considered. Very large numbers of spectators are accommodated in such structures so the life-safety risks have to be taken extremely seriously.

Although the Guide has been written primarily with the UK in mind the principles can be applied universally when allowances are made for regional differences in legislation and practice. As such it will have a wide application and will help to improve standards and enhance safety.

Who contributed?

The AGOTS Group consists of:

Peter Hind Chairman and technical editor, together with representatives from; Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety, The Event Services Association, The Institute of Licensing, The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, The Health & Safety Executive, The Institution of Civil Engineers, The Institution of Structural Engineers, Professional Light and Sound Association, MUTA (Marquees, Tents, and Structures), The Production Services Association, and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

This fourth edition (2017) contains essential information on the procurement, design, erection and use of temporary demountable structures, including: grandstands; stages; fabric structures; hospitality units; and fencing and barriers. Towers and masts that support media facilities are also included.

It is intended for Event Organisers, Venue Owners, Local Authorities, Contractors, Suppliers and ‘Competent persons’ responsible for the design of such structures.

It can be purchased from the Institute of Structural Engineers


Tools and resources

Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds During Construction

The aim of this document is to give Certifying Authorities guidance on how to ensure that reasonable standards of public safety can be maintained whilst construction operations are in progress.

Guide to Concessionaire Facilities at Sports Grounds

This document provides further guidance on the matters to be considered when concessionaire and other allied services are provided at sports grounds.The guidance covers catering and hospitality; mobile and fast food stalls, TV and radio broadcast equipment and facilities, betting and gambling facilities, programme and publication sales and finally, souvenir and other retail shops and kiosks.

Guide to Electrical and Mechanical Services at Sports Grounds

This document provides detailed advice on electrical and mechanical services at sports grounds for Certifying Authorities and for those responsible for crowd safety at sporting events. The document expands upon the Green Guide advice, and will assist those unfamiliar with electrical and mechanical installations to appreciate some of the related safety issues. The Guide also contains specimen inspection and test certificates.

Alternative uses of Sports Grounds

Alternative Uses provides guidance to stadium owners, operators, local authorities, promoters and event organisers to help adapt existing sports grounds to safely accommodate a range of events.


Concourses draws upon the views and experience of safety officers, leading stadia architects and engineers in addition to the survey work of the Core Cities group of local authorities. It examines how floor space factors are applied in other similar venues and contains clear advice on concourse occupancy levels and floor space factors which will provide an invaluable source of information for sports ground managers, designers, safety advisors and interested agencies when upgrading existing or designing new facilities at sports grounds.


Dynamic Performance and Testing of Grandstands

Dynamic performance requirements for permanent grandstands subject to crowd action - Interim guidance on assessment and design.The principal advice given in the Guidance concerns the recommended vertical natural frequencies and horizontal load resistance of grandstands considered necessary to provide the safety and comfort of the public at a range of sporting and other entertainment events.

When should the first annual inspection and structural appraisal be undertaken at a new, or recently completed, stadium?

It is usual that the safety certificate or operations manual will require ground management to obtain every 12 months , a report from a competent person that the structural elements have been inspected and found to be adequate.