Pop-up! Temporary use of niche spaces

In the last post Pop-up! Creative use of niche spaces #2 I have shared some cases of shared storefronts, collaborative shops and temporary use spotted in Taiwan. Those urban happenings are interesting though often motivated by short term profits. Here I’d like to share some international cases that have more longer-term impacts on the use of urban niche spaces:

////// Restaurant Day, Helsinki ////// A day for anyone to start up a guerrilla restaurant

Image by jonnatammisto

Restaurant Day is a food carnival in Helsinki when anyone can open a restaurant for a day, and the best of all is – no permits needed! Imagine that you can order a sandwich that is served in a basket, lowering down from a 3rd floor apartment window?

Image by jonnatammisto

The 4th pop-up restaurant day was just celebrated on February 4th 2012. It has been a success because it encouraged everyone to be creative in making food (which most people like to do), making a one day business (with lots of fun) and turning a home or a street into a restaurant (like a carnival). As described in The Pop-up City:

…a Forager Baker kitchen where everyone could make their own pizza from fresh picked ingredients in a stone oven and a Soup King serving soup and advising its customers to buy plates in the nearby flea. Restaurant Day was organised through a Facebook event and food was literally popping everywhere; in the streets, parks, clothing shops as well as Helsinki homes.

It’s interesting to see how this experiment keeps encouraging more fresh restaurant concepts, and how the urban regulation will react to this informal initiative. To get more impressions of Restaurant Day you can check this Flickr album

////// Meanwhile Space ////// Connecting temporary users to vacant properties

Meanwhile Space connects temporary users (e.g. artists, start-up entrepreneurs or charities) to landlords with available spaces, in which temporary leases are organized. As described Meanwhile Space’s mission:

Meanwhile Space works with landlords, landowners, developers and local authorities to relieve them temporarily of liabilities (insurance, rates, security etc.) associated with holding redundant shops, offices, cleared land etc. whilst an appropriate commercial solution is being sought. By working with local communities and other stakeholders, interim or ‘Meanwhile,’ uses are deployed to reanimate the space and provide opportunities for community benefit and social enterprise.

This creates mutual benefit for both the vacant property owners and the temporary users who, on the one side can finally release their frozen properties, and on the other side can finally afford spaces to start up. On Meanwhile space’s website you can find practical resources / handbooks that describe how Meanwhile Lease works for both the landlords & users.

One of their initiatives is using a former Subway shop in Exmouth Market in London, which has already hosted many projects from an exhibition space (The Pallet Project during Clerkenwell Design Week), a vintage clothing shop (Harry’s smile) to a cake shop (Roving Chef).

The former Subway shop has been vacant for two years before Meanwhile Space re-activate it.

Launch of The Pallet Project. Images by Robyn-Louise Simms, New Deal of the Mind

Roving Chef - a one-week cake shop at the end of August, 2011.

Click this Meanwhile Space Forum to see more images of these projects.

////// REC, Igualada ////// 3-days event that turns a village into a fashion outlet

Preparation of the pop-up shop Desigual at REC store. Image source: http://www.recstores.com

REC claims itself as ‘experimental store’ by transforming old factories in the village Igualada into pop-up shops, where the emerging design brands offer their stock at incredible (affordable) prices. What makes this initiative exciting is the choice of location – a decaying town that has a long tradition of tanning and textile industries. This event thus connects the locals, physically and mentally, back to their industrial heritage & tradition.

The following video shows the first edition of REC.01, giving an impression of Igualada and the process of reviving abandoned buildings:

The REC.05 is going to celebrate its 5th edition during June 6-8, 2012. Click this google map to browse the route of this year.

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