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by Siri Agell

‘Pop-up’ urban planning gives cities the freedom to experiment with projects on a temporary basis, allowing innovative ideas a trial run without expensive commitment of taxpayer money. Cities around the world are embracing the idea, leading in many cases to permanent changes in the urban landscape

The words “pop-up” have become synonymous recently with a smart, savvy form of experimentation. Usually associated with the temporary installation of a café or retail store that operates for a limited time and then disappears, pop-ups are used by chefs to try out restaurant concepts, while brands employ them to gauge the interest and spending habits of specific neighbourhoods.

Now, cities around the world have embraced the idea of pop-up urban planning, experimenting with temporary projects as a way to build public support for an idea, circumvent city hall, or iron out the wrinkles in a municipal pipedream.

The idea was first employed in Copenhagen in the 1950s, when the now famously pedestrian-friendly city was debating whether to close Strøget Street to car traffic. With the public firmly opposed the idea, the city announced it would close the road over the Christmas holiday as an experiment.

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