Building the pop up with BuildingBloQs: The power of an urgent genius

Contrary to what the name suggests, pop-ups don't exactly pop up overnight and usually take weeks of planning. 
We gave ourselves three days.  

I had recently read Urgent Genius by Grant Hunter and Jon Burkhart. Although slightly dated now, the book’s message is still strong: when faced with an incredibly tight deadline, there is the potential to create some really strong work. 

Given that our design team had other commitments and limited availability, I decided that it was better to spend 3 days risking a pop up build than having nothing at all.  There were many hiccups along the way, and even more late nights, but we managed to produce  apop up with some incredible results.  

Designing the Pop up. 

In our three day schedule, we allocated one day for design and planning, including producing some architectural drawings of the proposed structure. 

The design was led by Alex Clarke, an MA Urban Design student at the Barlett, and Lucia Lanzalaco, a final year Architecture student at CSM. I had the following aims for the pop up: 

  • Create a space which provided seating and a place to write

  • A structure which was adaptable 

  • Encourage conversation between strangers

  • Flat pack

  • Light weight

  • Portable

This was something which had to be done fast, which meant making quick decisions which would enable a simple build.  

Building the pop up 


With Christmas holidays quickly approaching and all university studios closed for Christmas, we were in desperate need of a workshop to build all the pieces of the pop up.  

We were very kindly taken in by Building BloQs, an open workshop in Enfield. Jason and his team were so helpful and did everything they could to host us over the Christmas season... they even surprised us with a Christmas Lunch!  

Jason helped us to source four sheets of 24mm deep pine ply, which we used for the pop up.   

We spent a whole day measuring up the pieces, and Pod came to help us cut the pieces by hand with a jigsaw.  



We loved the exposed wood and decided to use our brand colours to finish the sides of the pieces. In this way, we could expose the material and give the pop up a charming, hand-made quality.  

We would like to help all the team at Building BloQs for all of their help at such a last minute! If you ever need a workshop for your projects, please support this wonderful team.  

Urgent Genius taught us to just go for it. We did – and the results were beyond what we expected. If only we could be this productive every day!

Sophia Luu