Pop-Ups Show Promise and Peril of Modern City-Building

The temporary projects that enliven Britain's derelict and overlooked urban spaces offer a taste of the power of transformative placemaking. But they come hand in hand with increasing consolidation and homogenization in the architecture field.
August 6, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Rowan Moore examines the UK's growing portfolio of pop-up projects. "They are often the creations of young architects who, their talent and energy outrunning their employment opportunities, initiate, design and build these glimpses of what a better city – more open, more social, more pleasurable, more surprising – might be."

"They are reminders that, for all its apparent fixity, built space is always in motion, always prone to being readapted and reimagined," he observes. "At their best they use temporary pleasures to make permanent changes to the way people can inhabit their neighbourhoods."

"It should also be noted that, in a parallel universe, the commitment of talented architects might be spent on things like housing, schools or permanent transformations of cities. There is a correlation between the rise of pop-ups on the one hand and, on the other, the rise of very large architectural practices, run on industrial lines, which shape the places where most of us spend most of our lives."

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Published on Saturday, August 3, 2013 in The Guardian
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