The world’s largest vendor-sponsored trade show, Dreamforce 2013, closed Howard Street in San Francisco, Calif., to traffic for four days and opened it to more than 130,000 cloud computer aficionados from 65 countries. Host business Salesforce.com scheduled the mammoth event for November and commissioned inflatable structure experts from Tectoniks Ltd., Shropshire, England, to protect conference attendees from the possibility of dicey weather conditions. Tectoniks proposed an inflatable tubular structure 300 feet long and 60 feet wide to cover the entire street like a transparent, quilted and segmented caterpillar.
Tectoniks’ brief was to provide shelter from bad weather, create an airy high-tech ambiance, show no visible inflation equipment and comply with stringent local safety regulations. The structure included concrete “shoes” filled with inflation equipment, high-pressure inflatable tubes and low-pressure hexagonal pillows. The low-pressure pillows transmitted outdoor light, enhanced indoor light and protected presenters, entertainers, lounging visitors and electronic gear from an all-night rain on day two of the event. The concrete ballasts made the ingenious internal inflation network of 600 flexible hoses and 1,200 valves invisible, doing double duty as casual seating areas. The Tectoniks team installed the translucent archway in one day, and took it down in one day. During the intervening time, the inflated tunnel looked great inside, outside and from the air.