Where Do Pop-ups Fit In?

MC |

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Market Collective Events Images [1]

The second installment in our Face Lift series, exploring the new face of our city.


mC:t    2015.07.15   

Summer in Calgary is always a-buzz with events that get us up and out and mingling. From Lilac Festival, to Stampede to the Food Truck frenzies in the East Village, there are definitely no shortage of events that are popping up within our city during the summer months. The good ol’ Calgary spirit comes out, and together we gather in these various destinations showcasing the vibrance of our city in full effect.

Unfortunately though, the summer months are relatively short and chilly weather for 8 months out of the year leave us daydreaming of warm weather and the activities from summer past. Considering the impermanence of the warm weather and these events, led me to start thinking about Pop-up events and spaces in Architecture. As Architecture students, in addition to designing spaces, we engage in some pretty interesting discussions on urbanism, activating space and our relationship as humans to the built environment. Thinking about the words ‘building’ and ‘architecture’ we often associate these terms with the notion of permanence and longevity. The term Pop-up in itself suggests a temporary and short-lived/transient nature; the antithesis of creating environments that stand the test of time.

As cities begin to grow, the urgency to create a sense of place is intensified. Our attention inordinately seems to focus on new large-scale architectural interventions like skyscrapers and shopping malls, and presume these developments will intensify urban life. Often the goal of these new developments is to increase public participation and create a place for meaningful interaction. However, what about the spaces that already exist and that are perhaps, under-utilized?

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Interior and Exterior views of the Chinese Cultural Centre 

I came across the term tactical urbanism, which describes an “approach to neighborhood building and activation using short-term, low cost, and scalable interventions and policies” [2]. Market Collective was the first event that came to mind in regards to a short-term intervention. Over the past few years, Market Collective events have been held in various spaces across the city from the King Edward School, East Village Boardwalk to its current place on the main floor of the Chinese Cultural Centre in downtown Calgary. Once a month, this event brings together artists and individuals from all communities to engage in local arts, music and culture. Undoubtedly each space this event has occupied, every iteration and location has been transformed into a vibrant and fun place to be.

It is interesting how temporary events or Pop-up spaces have the power to be flexible and the ability to spur constant change; challenging the familiar notions we have toward what Architecture can and should be. Whether it be new or existing, small or large, temporary or permanent, what are your thoughts on the ways urban interventions can engage people in the places they inhabit?



Next: Coming soon…
Previous: The Side-Effects of Stampeding


[1] Market Collective Photography. Market Collective Facebook. Accessed July 14, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/marketcollective
[2] Lydon, Mike & Garcia, Anthony. “Tactical Urbanism”. Washington: Island Press, 2015.


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