Temporary urbanism: contributing to an urban neighborhood short-term, better than never

Can long-term speculation on the development of large, single-use buildings coexist with small buildings that contribute to an urban neighborhood?  The answer may be temporary urbanism.

For example, the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn is a collection of shipping containers that serve as a neighborhood retail center but can be moved when the land they occupy is needed for a tower.  Dekalb was developed by Urban Space and Young Woo & Associates, and designed by ORE Design.  The Architects Newspaper writer Gwen Webber notes: “The modular market sits on the former site of the Albee Square shopping center, now the planned site of the second phase of the CityPoint development in Downtown Brooklyn.  The vendors each leased for one year and could individualize the container interiors.”  Full article here, and Inhabitat has coverage and photo gallery here.

From the Urban Space website:  “For over 30 years, USM has been breathing life and energy into a variety of inner city spaces.  These may be historic buildings whose circumstances have changed, sites blighted by impending development for which profitable interim uses can be found, or prime downtown locations which cry out for a more imaginative mix of uses.  The Urban Space approach is never to impose a solution but to grow it organically from the nature of the space.  Creativity, individual enterprise, and often performance arts are essential ingredients.”

Another example from a recent issue of Elle Decor: “Douglas Burnham of Envelope Architecture & Deisgn is proving there’s a quicker way to change streetscape than waiting for deep-pocketed developers to build on empty lots.  When housing projects for two blocks of San Francisco were shelved, Burnham came up with the idea for Proxy [pictured above] — a temporary village with food, art, culture, and shopping, housed in repurposed shipping containers and tentlike structures.  But with only a five-year lease on the property, ‘the pieces we bring in need to be modular and mobile.'”

And temporary urbanism can be more than retail, for example the Zeta Lancaster modular units include both retail and housing, and could be moved to make way for a large building.


Building urban neighborhoods by promoting their fundamental building block: small, adaptable buildings.

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