Temporary use of abandoned buildings

Marie Joja

Cite this article
Joja, M. (2022) ‘Temporary use of abandoned buildings’, Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, 26(3), pp. 42-46. https://www.doi.org/10.2478/alfa-2021-0018



Temporary architecture is a way to produce an instant experience. It focuses on a specific location and develops unique tactics to activate it. It adapts to the site, which is often abandoned and backward. Temporary use concentrates on a single purpose and its influence at a given moment. It reflects the current economic state and situation in adjacent neighbourhood and community and aims at becoming a catalyst for a permanent change.

Empty buildings represent a valuable resource for urban development of the area. They belong to the category of areas suitable for reconstruction. There exists functioning urban infrastructure, networks and transport services. Their activation contributes to the recycling of areas within the urban structure, increasing the efficiency of land use and contributing to the sustainable development of the territory.

In temporary architecture the effort is concentrated on a single purpose and its effect over a limited period of time. A plan of temporary use should take into account the requirements for the preservation of historical structures as well as an introduction of a permanent function. An abandoned building will thus be in the centre of attention along with its surrounding. Unused areas are often associated with bad reputation as they attract unwanted or illegal activities. Temporary functional content becomes an impulse for urban renewal.

Research is based on a hypothesis that temporary use is an architectural tool to initiate a long-term activation of abandoned buildings. A method of analysis of individual case studies was employed. Pop-up projects selected for research are located within Europe given the cultural link to the Czech environment. Individual criteria are observed and analysed.

Case studies are listed with emphasis on their diverse distribution within urban structures. The current success of pop-up activities is based primarily on the location in large cities due to concentration of inhabitants, a wide range of functional options and higher successful rate.

Listed projects succeeded in activation of vacant premises and all of the selected were supported from the start by favourable conditions of lease in form of symbolic zero or energy fees. In summary, the financial optimisation is vital for temporary activation of abandoned buildings to be successful.

Archipop is a newly established database created by the author which focuses on the topic of temporariness in architecture. Its aim is to map successful activations of abandoned buildings by means of temporary interventions in Europe. Archipop is a product of a complex search for examples of a temporary activation activity. Individual pop-up projects are difficult to be found. There is an increasing demand for detailed information about the specifics of temporary use. Archipop is launched as a publicly accessible website providing a complex set of information about temporary use of abandoned buildings. It pursues the aim to become a valuable resource of data for the topic of successful revitalisation of unused areas.

Temporariness is a tool for architectural salvage. The life cycle of an abandoned building has not been closed—it has only reached an interim phase and awaits until its new function is defined. A pop-up activity is a suitable way to bring the place back to life and to steer it towards a complete revitalisation. Archipop was created to provide inspiration and positives of temporary use. Its ambition is to promote revitalisation of unused areas with the use of temporary architecture and to save historic heritage from its terminal destruction.

Keywords: abandoned buildings, archipop, temporary architecture, pop-up, vacancy