Pop-up City. Searching for instant urbanity

February 18, 2017
By City Space Architecture

In June 2013 City Space Architecture started to work on the photography research project "Pop-up City" in the city of Bologna, as a part of the international research project "Past Present and Future of Public Space", in collaboration with the photographer Fabio Mantovani, our friend and member of our Board of Consuls.
Working on different locations, the "Pop-up City" project intended to highlight existing places with a potential for public life, looking for invisible dimensions of the public realm, searching for an "ordinary magic" along everyday streets, squares and neighborhoods, delivering new powerful images of the urban world. We explored in particular those suburban places, generally disconnected from the mental representation of the urban narrative plot of public spaces made of beauty and fascination, with no identity and continuity with the historic environment. We were moving further from the European mental attitude that immediately links the concept of “public space” to the idea of a traditional designed square.
These suburban places are part of the everyday existence, but common people are accustomed to experience them as fragments in a sort of jump-cut urbanism, affected by the use of cars. We pass through but we don’t notice. The suburban world can be banal, sometimes ugly, not interesting, but full of life and can transform itself into an enchanting environment. People simply have to understand a new kind of urbanity, made of small, temporary, spontaneous and creative episodes of emotional exchange.
A pop-up city is overlapping on the existing designed city. It is unexpected, unconventional and exciting. It is inexpensive and freely accessible to everyone. It creates vibrant energies, embedding life and aspirations. It changes your perception, but only if you are ready to embrace it.
The Pop-up City project is trying to document what is now largely undocumented. We are representing the city of Bologna, but actually the Pop-up City could be anywhere.

The curator of Pop-up City is our President, Luisa Bravo..





BOLOGNA. Quartiere San Vitale, Municipality of Bologna.
6 photographs were exhibited as part of a public symposium. That was a work in progress, in order to test people interest and curiosity about the porject.



BOLOGNA, Museum of the History of Bologna at Palazzo Pepoli, June 27-July 20

10 photographs, as the first result of this work, were selected for a three-weeks public exhibition at the . On June 27, 2014 we celebrated the opening with academic scholars and professionals attending the "Past Present and Future of Public Space" International Conference on Art, Architecture and Urban Design in Bologna.
Thanks to Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna and Genus Bononiae, for the generous hospitality and for supporting our project.


BOLOGNA. Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, Fiera District, October 31

10 photographs were showed in the Diorama hall, as part of the seminar Life in Cities, on the occasion of the very first World Cities Day promoted by UN-Habitat!

Thanks to Emilia-Romagna Region, Urban Regeneration Office

HONG KONG. Tin Sau Bazaar, Tin Shui Wai, November 8-15

3 photographs were selected and displayed at a big scale, approximately 1:1 scale.
Tin Shui Wai is a city formerly known as sadness (Savela, 2013): located at the margin of Hong Kong, its space has no identity, it lacks street spaces for communal encounters and micro-economic activities.  All these result in the stigmatisation of Tin Shui Wai with problems such as social isolation and a high unemployment rate. The Magic Carpet project team at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Tin Sau Bazaar see that Pop-up City resonates the situation of Tin Shui Wai. Bologna and Hong Kong share the same suburban reality, in a way that is not difficult to perceive: even if they are related to different geographical contexts and cultures, the two cities are dealing with living communities in new, large urban landscapes far away from the historic downtown district.
Through staging Pop-up City at Tin Shui Wai, the Magic Carpet project team and Tin Sau Bazaar hope to re-envision, activate, and transform the public space of the district, and thereby make the community more vibrant. In addition, the project aims to foster art and cultural exchange in Tin Shui Wai, where creative activities are scarce.


PRESENTATIONS (by the curator, Luisa Bravo)

2014, PORTO, Portugal. ISUF Conference

2014, BUENOS AIRES, Argentina. Future of Places Conference

2015, ROME, Italy. MaPS. Mastering Public Space @ MAXXI B.A.S.E.

2016, QUITO, Ecuador. Fabrica Ciudad, United Nations Habitat III Village



HONG KONGNovember 2014. Photography session during the Umbrella Revolution, in Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, Mong Kok, Tin Sui Wai, Kwai Shing West Estate, Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate.

BEIRUT (forthcoming).