On Major Event Materials

24 Sep

Well. What a week huh? Safety and security concerns, health and sanitation hiccups and last-minute construction woes – but despite all this, the athletes are arriving and it looks like the Games will go ahead.

This week also highlighted that major event production activities – such as construction, marketing, security, occupational health and safety – all require a lot of different materials.

There’s even an unusual vocabulary to describe some of these materials, such as:

  • overlay –  temporary fittings, fixtures and equipment making the training and competition venues ready for a major event
Non-slip mat at 2007 FINA Swimming Championships

Non-slip mat, poolside at 2007 FINA Swimming Championships

  • bunting – traditionally describes a lightweight cloth material often used for flags and festive decorations. Today it can also refer to canvas fence coverings like this outside the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre during the 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships.
FINA fence bunting

Fence bunting at 2007 FINA Swimming Championships

  • hoarding – Dictionary.com defines hoarding as
  1. (Business/Marketing) a large board used for displaying advertising posters, as by a road Also called (esp US and Canadian) billboard
  2. (Miscellaneous Technologies/Building) a temporary wooden fence erected round a building or demolition site.
Hoarding at 2007 FINA Championships

Hoarding at 2007 FINA Swimming Championships

And here in Delhi last week, we have the appearance of ‘wall wraps’ around several construction sites across the city. We’re not sure what the wraps and banners are made of yet, but we’re going to find out.

Wall wraps for Delhi 2010 Games sites

Wall wraps for Delhi 2010 Games sites (Hindustan Times, 15 Sept, 2010)

Delhi isn’t the first city to cover up in preparation for a major event: In Beijing, fake building facades (Potemkin facades) were installed across the city for the 2008 Olympics and, during the 1954 Queen’s visit to Australia, walls of hessian fabric were reportedly put up to hide suburbs such as Redfern and its resident Aboriginal population.

We’re not judging the merits of such activity, but we are acknowledging it seems to be a common part of major event delivery around the world.

The question we want to answer is this: once the party’s over, what happens to the temporary materials used to mask and beautify a city in preparation for a major event?

These materials are interesting to us because Conserve India can definitely use canvas and vinyls. And if you think it’s only a peripheral part of the Games waste stream, think again.

In June 2010, Monocle ran a short story about a German flag company on the verge of bankruptcy prior to the recent World Cup in South Africa. The company targeted the World Cup by producing and selling flags from all contesting nations (it was predicting sales of a million South African flags alone!)

This one small aspect of a major event could mean enough income for this company to re-employ it’s 60 staff. It also means one hell of a lot of flags, eventually destined for the rubbish bin.

We think, sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

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