Pop-Up Architecture on the Cheap--Just for the Olympics

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 House of Flags

The Mayor of London is going all out to show the world what a fantastic place the city is. WONDER is a series of cheap and cheerful pavilions by staff and students at 4 different architecture schools, commissioned to make public places even more fun and bring on the Olympic spirit.

They have been plunked all over town: from train stations to parks so seeing them all will require Olympic efforts: but they are worth it. What a bunch of innovative, and surprising works they turn out to be.

House of Flags is across from the House of Commons. A perfect location for a work that presents the flags of all the nations participating in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. It's made of interlocking wood and has cut-outs to let the views in on either side.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Alga(e)zebo

Alga(e)zebo is located at a busy train station but in a very unfortunate place: far from the madding crowd. It's a shame because it is so interesting and cozy. It's a big rusting recycled steel structure, acting like a gazebo, with a small intimate enclosed seating area and a half-dead vine that is meant to grow up the side. A second pod has a solar light.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Tr(ee)logy

These three giant markers, called Tr(ee)logy are appropriately placed at a Tube (subway) exit. They already look like they have always been there, with people camped out at their base. Pictograms of familiar London landmarks are etched into the columns. Pointing to spots like Albertopolis and Batty's Grand National Hippodrome, these are places long gone, and existing only as part of memory now.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

From Central St Martins art school: Songboard. Located at a busy train station which is near the school, it's called a "multi-sensory interactive wall installation" but really it's a fun wall. People rotate the yellow balls so that they spell out their name, and then take a picture in front of it. Lots of action at this one.

© Bartlett School of Architecture Universal Tea Machine

Leave it to the Brit's to construct the Universal Tea Machine: it's a national obsession, the perfect cuppa, and this might be just the place to find it. Described as "a gargantuan cross between a tea-making device, a primitive computer and a pinball machine. As tall as a giraffe, as long as a double-decker bus and as colourful as a fun fair", it's silly and interactive and looks like fun.

Tags: Architects | London | Olympics