Book Chapter

Temporariness in architectural regeneration


The previous chapters have considered regeneration as a long term investment in an area through securing the future of buildings and places of architectural and communal significance. This chapter expounds the temporal dimension of regeneration and specifically focuses on short term or time bound interventions, considering their longer term implications for architectural regeneration in the context of the economic and social sustainability of places. Temporary structures have always been a fixture of urban and rural places, allowing spaces to be used for different functions, such as weekly markets or seasonal festivals. In rural areas temporary structures provide accommodation for seasonal agricultural workers, while entire towns are temporarily constructed to house pilgrims (Mehrotra and Vera 2015). In many parts of the world, temporary street vendors contribute to diversification of the retail offer and activate public spaces in the urban realm. There are also a host of other temporary activities that combine the need for an activity or use with a space that is permanently or temporarily redundant and vacant. These types of temporary interventions, some of which are trendily referred to as ‘pop-ups’ are emerging as a recognised component in the process of urban regeneration in the UK and across Europe (Bishop and Williams 2012; St Hill 2015). Pop-up architecture has become a regular thematic focus of design events, including the Venice Architecture Biennale since 2016. The trend is epitomised by images of re-purposed shipping containers, street food outlets and other functions that are prefixed with the word ‘pop-up’ (St Hill 2015). Often initiated by grass roots movements and/or young entrepreneurs, pop-ups generally involve the temporary use of a redundant space for a commercial, semi-commercial or charitable/community function. Temporary interventions come in multitudes of size, shape and duration and can be characterised by their function, type of space they occupy, intended purpose, instigators or duration and longevity. Temporary, locally initiated (and sourced) interventions are often viewed as a commitment to a locality. From an urbanism perspective, they highlight the dynamic nature of the built environment and its accompanying social fabric, where change and innovation are inseparably incorporated into everyday rhythms of daily life. Temporary interventions are being actively encouraged as part of urban regeneration in the spirit of co-creation, a shared activity of place making between planners and users (Fernandez 2015). Nonetheless, temporary activities, especially those with commercial purpose, can spearhead new opportunities but also represent conditions of precarity. While the flexible nature of a temporary venture can support the development of new products and services and test their viability, temporality can also be linked to the hand-to-mouth nature of the less permanent business model. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the characteristics and implications of a growing trend of temporary and short term approaches being adopted in architectural regeneration. In doing so the chapter will explore the condition of temporariness and its implications for the urban environment, evaluate the roles various actors take on in the processes of temporary urbanism, and reflect on the physical, socio-economic, political and cultural implications in the context of architectural regeneration.

Attached files


Orbaşlı, Aylin
Karmowska, Joanna

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes Business School


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-01-24

All rights reserved.

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Temporariness in architectural regeneration
This RADAR resource is Part of Architectural Regeneration [ISBN: 9781119340331] / edited by Aylin Orbasli, Marcel Vellinga.


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