Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pop-Up City: Archigram's Vision Is Becoming a Reality

Following some recent thoughts about pop-up retail inspired by the Proxy project in SF, I was really excited to see more large scale pop-up retail using shipping containers. It's officially a trend, and one that we could project out a bit further to imagine something not unlike Peter Cook's 1964 vision for the Plug-In City. First, in Shoreditch, London an entire mall's-worth of shipping container shops along an underdeveloped rail line in the center of the popular shopping district.

Boxpark Shoreditch from Roger Wade on Vimeo.

And Allison Arieff recently wrote an article which praises our new found love for the temporary, and she pointed to yet another example of the pop-up shipping container phenomenon in Brooklyn's DeKalb Market.

From the New York Observer via

It's not hard to imagine that this may well be the future of development in a world where standard construction is too slow and most ventures need to adapt to evolving circumstances. What if the entire city was an armature that received modular units which could reassemble and relocate at will with the aid of a unit-moving infrastructure? It's not all that novel an idea as Archigram's Peter Cook introduced it in 1964 as the Plug-in City. Construction capabilities and a would become a permanent fixture of a megaframe of utilities and strcuture, as cranes would move units and goods in a just-in-time society.

More recently Andrew Maynard proposed Corb 2.0 which created a housing community around a set of stacked, modified container units and a gantry crane that could transport them.

And maybe one of the most iconic proposals that pays a nod to Plug-In City, last year's vision for a highrise armature that aggregates containers for a housing unit by Luca D’Amico and Luca Tesio.

Luca D’Amico and Luca Tesio via Plataforma Arquitectura

There has been no shortage of virtual and built work surrounding the fascination with reusing shipping containers, but the scale to which they are permeating large scale commercial construction is a promising sign of a future Plug-In City. We may just find that in an continuing age where we will be cautious to build invest in the construction of a new, expensive and bureaucratically complex building. We may find that assembling modules may be the adaptable path to least resistance when it comes to building an our urban environment.


  1. That's a great idea. It's a practical move to go vertical when space is getting scarce. I'd love to try living in a storage container.

  2. I agree with Laura. I have to tell my secure storage in Perth about this. They have a lot of containers in their lot that's awaiting disposal.