Trend: How Pop Up Culture Can Enrich Urban Life [My Ideal City]

Trend: How Pop Up Culture Can Enrich Urban Life [My Ideal City]

Temporary structures highlight locally sourced content and bring variety into people’s everyday lives.

  • 12 may 2013

Architects and planners are experimenting with temporary venues designed to be quickly deployed and assembled to host temporary events like performances and films.

Gary Hack, a celebrated urban planner with experience directing large-scale revitalization projects like NYC’s West Side park, who has most recently lent his expertise to a crowdsourced plan in Bogota, Colombia called MyIdealCity, believes that the future of urban planning is in pop-up culture:

‘Temporary’ is the new normal. Why shouldn’t cities change with the rhythm of the year, week, day and hour? In cities like Bogota, where there are many revered landmarks, there is not a danger of ruining the city image if zones are created for constant change.


One good example of the pop up culture trend is the ‘Movable Movie Theater’, a portable movie theater that is designed to be transported on a single truck. The theater’s rectangular structure is composed of several sections with each layer housed within another, much like a nested doll. When in use, the accordion-like layers are simply pulled out into a functional, multi-level theater. Created by Japanese designer, Yusuke Yamamoto, the current design is able to fit approximately 30 people. The design also features bookshelves along the sides to double as a moveable library. Yamamoto has said that he hopes his design will bring “smiles to the faces” of those currently living in the tsunami-ravaged Tohoku region of Japan.


Some interesting examples of pop up culture are in the city of Bogota, Columbia. For example, Bibliobus is a mobile library program developed by the mayor’s office which carries books and reading activities to outlying areas of the city with no nearby public libraries. Similarly, Park Theater is a reclaimed space for performing arts in the city, providing youth with a stage to open their imagination and improve their quality of life.

Kirsha Kaechelle is an art curator and important figure in the NOLA art scene who utilizes neglected urban spaces as a canvas to exhibit works of art. She offered this thought to on how pop-up projects can be used to connect with urban dwellers in new ways:

Pop-up environments bring the realm of the expected into spaces where it doesn’t belong, and better, where its viewers think they don’t belong. It creates an opening not only for artwork to rediscover itself through engagement with an unusual site, and for the viewer who, through their experience of the site itself, finds vacation from normal life and thought patterns.


Another example of pop up culture is the Moments Outside the Box (MOB) app as reported on by, which allows users to plan spontaneous group activities for friends and nearby strangers. Unlike other event-planning apps, MOB seeks to limit the complexity and time-consuming nature of planning meet-ups with friends and assists people to more easily connect with like-minded strangers. The free event discovery app enables users to connect with others in their vicinity to meet up immediately.

These pop up culture experiences connect with an ever-changing audience, while highlighting locally sourced content and bringing cultural enrichment into people’s lives.

Q. What cultural experience would you like to see pop up temporarily in your city?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #Maximizedspace


Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imaging the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas using the hashtag of the week and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.

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