Edwin Shirley Staging’s Tower system, which allows for the rapid construction of large-scale, clear-span temporary venue structures, has been used in some very high profile places in recent years, and has given a real boost to the company’s profile.

The system has performed a large number of high-profile roles, including the home of the Midland 97 concerts in London, the Millennium Dome’s SkyScape, to the home of De La Guarda’s Villa Villa (30m x 20m x 18m high) at the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas, to the smaller-scale screen mounts for the 1999 Cricket World Cup venues.

But it’s not just their clients who have been impressed. Following their high-profile involvement with projects such as SkyScape , their working methods are attracting interest from the construction industry. ESS project engineer Liam Hogg explains: "Many construction projects run over time and over budget. But because we come from the culture of rock and roll, we get the work done on time. You won’t see Michael Jackson being asked to wait while the crew finish building the stage. We do whatever we have to do to get the job done." And ESS certainly have the resources and experience to do so: during the building of SkyScape, the personnel involved varied between six and 200 at any one time. The company’s logistical expertise, borne out of its 25-year touring experience, is extraordinary: leap-frogging two separate but interchangeable top-flight world tour stages around the globe is no mean feat.

The advantages of the Tower system demountable structures are seemingly endless. They are cheap and can be built very quickly, and to guaranteed deadlines; when you’re finished with them, they can be quickly dismantled and removed. And these are by no means temporary tents, but highly sophisticated structures. Take SkyScape, for example: the two 2,500-capacity auditoria contained within it boast the largest cinema screens in Europe; one of them can be converted into a 3,700-capacity live event venue; the building is fully heated (using a trick borrowed from the Romans - an under-floor hypocaust system) and air-conditioned, and has specially-manufactured acoustic cladding which offers noise reduction of 30dBA (incidentally, visiting sound engineers have called it the best-sounding live venue in London). SkyScape also meets the highest safety standards for permanent structures, and is O-rated - the highest fire safety rating possible.

With all these advantages, it is no surprise that ESS’s Tower system has attracted attention from clients far removed from the world of entertainment - multi-national construction companies and governments among them. A number of varied demountable structure projects are expected to come to fruition for ESS in the near future - some of them may surprise you.
Lee Baldock

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