Launch and learn: experimental pop-up places proliferate

Pop-up stores began to appear 8-10 years ago. Now there are pop-up parks, art galleries, basketball courts and cafes. Although some things in life should be designed to stand the test of time, the pop-up concept offers several benefits. There can be an attractive experimental vibe about them. They promote conversations and learning from trial and error. Concepts can tried, honed or abandoned based on feedback.

Instead of being deterred by the need for exhaustive studies and coping with inevitable naysayers, the typically inexpensive, flexible components make it easier to test controversial approaches.

Recycled shipping containers offer independent entrepreneurs a chance to launch their business idea with minimum start-up costs. Below are the highly successful food stalls at Scadding Court in Toronto.

Above is the pedestrian pilot project for Willcocks Street pop-up parkette on the University of Toronto campus.

Times Square is another interesting pop-up experiment that has been deemed successful enough to become a permanent installation. An eight-month trial that involved closing parts of Broadway to vehicular traffic resulted in improved safety and a generally positive reception. According to city data, there was a 35 percent decline in pedestrian injuries and a 63 percent reduction in injuries to drivers and passengers. As reported in the New York Times, “Foot traffic grew by 11 percent in Times Square…and a survey of local businesses found that more than two-thirds of the area’s retailers wanted the project to become permanent.”

– Sharon VanderKaay


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    We see our collaboration with clients and colleagues as providing a living lab for enriching the creative process. Farrow’s built work has been internationally recognized for leadership in human-centric design. This is where we come to discuss our ideas as they hatch and our experiences as they happen.
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