Reclaim The City

The pop-ups that are making temporary space have a lasting impact on the culture of Dublin

Enjoying a coffee at a Dublin City pop-up

Taking the city back!

The phrase ‘pop-up’ is frequently bandied about in cities these days and has become synonymous with 21st century urban life. With some of the world’s biggest brands pumping money into ideas for the temporary use of forgotten spaces, it’s easy to become distracted from the fact that the nature of the pop-up lends itself to worthy initiatives with goals that extend beyond finding a felt moustache sticker for your fixie. Dublin’s pop-up projects are reclaiming that DIY spirit, hacking the city’s underused spaces for enticing new projects.

Granby Park

Ambitious both in terms of physical scale and its vision for social impact, the Granby Park project built a temporary creative oasis rejuvenating a site that has been out of use for the last few years, transforming an empty lot into an artistic playground. 

The park was been a roaring success, with over 12,000 people passing through the gates on a particularly busy day. Its amphitheatre hosted packed-out outdoor screenings, daytime discos, late-night gigs and readings from the most promising young Irish writers. A café, trade school and plenty of installations kept the space abuzz every day. The park may have wrapped up, but Upstart, the crew behind the park’s regeneration, are doubt be planning something special again for Dublin City

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Bringing art to the people

Coinciding with Granby Park’s run, a smaller-scale initiative with a related vision is happened south of the river. Making Space @’ is a pop-up residency for artists that took illustrators and designers out of the studio and placed them squarely in a public place to make work. The masses were free to meddle in their business for the week of the residency. They peered over shoulders, made helpful observations and ultimately  bought some of their prints.

It was an initiative that made good use of what would otherwise be an empty space, injecting energy into the practice of the artist by detaching them from the studio, while opening up the creative process to the public. Organiser Orlaith Ross says the city “is bursting with creativity and there has definitely been an increase in the amount great things happening in Dublin from pop-up shops, creative use of disused spaces and designers and artists working with businesses to make Dublin a better place.” Ross also hosts experimental music nights in Christchurch, lending the historical venue a whole new lease of life.

Pop Shops

The cult of the pop-up is also serving Ireland’s strong craft heritage. The Royal Hibernian Academy’s Irish Design Shop is hosted a series of pop-up shops for a number of Irish designers and makers. The producers received a temporary but known space to sell their work, a practice that promotes small-scale, local production and helps to grow the quality and diversity of this burgeoning Irish industry. 

And then there’s Temple Bar’s Library Project, a spin-off from the internationally-acclaimed PhotoIreland festival, which has turned Black Church Print Studio into a public library of photobooks and magazines from all over the world which showcase Irish publishing, photography and design amongst such luminaries as Eric Kessler and Ryan McGinley. There are prints and magazines on sale, with all the profit going towards making the Library Project a more permanent fixture.

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