Pop-up architecture as a tool for popularizing theatre: Prototype No. 1

Kristína Boháčová, Alexander Schleicher


This article builds on previous research dealing with temporary theatres in the context of Europe and Slovakia, discusses the issue of pop-up pavilions in terms of architecture, their use in marketing and as a potential tool for reviving the theatre scene. Just as temporary architecture can activate neglected areas in the city and bring stimuli for a permanent change, we believe that it can be equally stimulating in the area of theatre. The paper also outlines the potential of pop-up architecture as a popularizer of both theatre and architecture among the general public. The Shed by Haworth Tompkins is one of the examples to demonstrate a possible positive contribution of such designs to a permanent theatre and its surroundings. On the example of the temporary theatre building The Shed from the United Kingdom, which served as an extension to the permanent theatre, we can see the project was a success on several levels. With its four times extended lifespan, it shows acceptance by both the theatre-goers and general public. It enjoyed positive feedback in several articles and recognition of architecture critics. At the time Evelyn Furquim Lima wrote her article Architecture-event installation, or temporary theatre? A study of the Shed in London, there was controversy over whether the temporary theatre would become permanent at the request of the London population and would change its name from The Shed to the Temporary Theatre (Lima, 2017). Today we know that it did not happen; on the contrary, the building conformed to its temporary nature and then disappeared, remaining true to its mission. However, it does not change our view on the assumption that even temporary objects have a beneficial impact on their surroundings. Based on the analysis of similar examples and statistical data on the attendance of theatre performances, we decided to design and implement a prototype of a minimal theatre scene, which also provides wide variability and can be used beyond the time dedicated to theatre activities. In the design phase, we examine the limits of variability and explore basics of kinetic architecture. Experiments have always pushed society forward, and it is temporary objects that, with their transient nature, have become the essence of experimentation. We saw an opportunity to test the limits of such object by experimental design of a minimal variable architectural form, which deviates from the typologically traditional arrangement of a theatre. In the second phase after the object is assembled and implemented, the subject of research will be its impact on the environment, the extent of user interaction with the object and the overall functionality of the object. The ambitions of our project do not reach as high as presented in The Shed. The aim was to test the possibilities and viability of a much smaller object, to document the cultural, educational, but also economic benefits, in domestic conditions of Slovakia. Thanks to The Program for the Support of Young Researchers and The PUN Project, the object is currently in production, and later will be moved to the faculty premises, surface-threated and then assembled for the very first time. For possible future needs, we anticipate the designing of furniture such as seating, an information desk or bar counter. It is our first experience with this type of installation, especially in relation to the material, and therefore we need to include extra time in the project timeline. The prototype should be fully available later this year (2022).

Keywords: architecture, theatre, pop-up, temporary, prototype