Tepee, Temporary Exhibition Tent
Year of construction
Function of building
Temperate - cold winters and mild summers
In 1992, this "tepee" was designed as a reception pavilion for a major Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition held in the Grand Palais in Paris, The form and the structure were based on the requirements of the initial location. The entrance situation was to be inviting and at the same time have a striking appaerance. The outcome was a much-acclaimed temporary structure intended for subsequent use in other locations.
In 1993, the tepee was erected in front of the Bibliothèque de France - still under construction at that time - where it served as an information centre for two years.
In the course of time, the structure acquired an emblematic quality and became a sign of special events in Paris. In 1997, it was moved to the open square of the Beaubourg, where it will stand until the year 2000, accomodating various activities and serving as an information centre during the period in which the Centre Georges Pompidou is closed.
The tepee was conceived as a temporary yet enduring structure. A period of three weeks is required for its transport to a new site and its re-erection. In considering the use, therefore , the duration of a particular event has to be balanced against the assembly time.
Outwardly, the tepee has the form of a large white opaque cone during the day. Seen from the inside, it is translucent and brightly lit, and its load-bearing construction is clearly visible. In the evening, the metal structure supporting the illuminated cone is also visble from the outside.
The load-bearing framework consists of 12 tiers that taper towards the top. Each tier is divided along its perimeter into 12 bays of equal size. The sloping steel legs of the triangulated framework diminish in length from tier to tier upwards. At right angles to the node points of the triangles are compression members that serve to tension the outer membrane. Metal plates welded to the ends of the compression members protect the skin from damage. The 700 g/m² fabric membrane has no load-bearing function. It is manufactured as a single element, which is hoisted to the tip of the cone by crane, lowered over the supporting framework and finally tensioned by pressing the compression members outwards at the node points.
[Detail 8/1998, Mobile Structures, p 1411]
Description of the environmental conditions
General comments, links
An Itinerant Building Temporary Exhibition Tent
Material of the cover
Main dimensions and form
Covered surface (m2)
Total length (m)
Total width (m)
Duration of use
Temporary or permanent structure
Convertible or mobile
Convertible and mobile
Design lifespan in years
Philippe Chaix, Jean-Paul Morel and Partners
Marijke M. Mollaert