Pop-ups
The pop-up trend has taken the leisure industry by storm

From parks to spas, and hotels to cinemas, the pop-up trend has taken the leisure industry by storm. Magali Robathan takes a look at some of the world’s most innovative projects

By Magali Robathan | Published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 2


Pop-up Hotels

The hotel industry has got into the pop-up trend in a big way. Pop-up hotels range from cheap temporary accommodation often set up to provide lodgings for events and festivals to luxury high end facilities.

The Snoozebox Portable Hotel is created from stacked shipping containers, with each room featuring a double and a single bed, an ensuite wet-room, air conditioning, a flatscreen tv and free WiFi. The hotel provides temporary accommodation at a range of events and festivals across Europe – it will be appearing at events during 2013 including the Edinburgh Festival, the Formula 1 British Grand Prix and the Isle of Man TT 2013.

Sleepbox Hotel mobile capsules, created by Russian design studio Arch Group, can be installed into existing buildings to turn them into temporary hotels. Customers can book the capsules for a night or by the hour, and pay at a shared terminal, which issues them with an electronic key. The first Sleepbox opened at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in 2011.

Somerset company The Pop-Up Hotel creates a pop-up hotel experience in luxury safari tents at events and festivals across the UK. Guests get a tent already set up for them, with beds, towels, duvets and pillows, electric lighting and access to luxury showers and toilets, a hair and make up parlour and a restaurant and bar serving breakfasts and light snacks.

The Pop-Up Hotel ‘popped up’ at various events during 2012, including Glastonbury Festival, Goodwood Revival 2012 and the Big Festival, and is set to appear at a range of festivals and events this year.

Coming in with a slightly different take on the pop-up hotel idea is Berlin-based sales and marketing consortium Design Hotels™, which has transformed two existing hotels into Design Hotels for a short period of time. This allows hotel owners to try a luxury product on a temporary basis to see whether the demand is there.

Design Hotels launched its first pop-up resort at Papaya Playa in Tulum, Mexico in 2011. Eighty five cabanas were refurbished by the Design Hotels™ team, with the temporary resort open for six months – closing in May 2012. On the back of the success of this project, Design Hotels™ launched the San Giorgio Mykonos, a 34 bedroom hotel on the Greek island of Mykonos last summer. The San Giorgio Mykonos will reopen for the 2013 summer season in May.

 



The Pop-Up Hotel offers a glamping experience at festivals and events
 


The Snoozebox containers are easy to transport, and don’t require mains services
 
 


Design Hotels™ has temporaily transformed the San Giorgio Mykonos into a luxury property
 
 


Design Hotels™ has temporaily transformed the San Giorgio Mykonos into a luxury property
 
Pop-up Parks

Pop-up parks are an ingenious idea for temporarily regenerating vacant or underused land in urban areas crying out for more green space. These projects can help reclaim unsightly areas of land, bring vitality to an area and encourage community spirit.

In the Victoria Park area of Calgary, Canada, community volunteers have transformed a privately-owned vacant plot of land into two urban open spaces. The site was originally meant to be used for the creation of a high rise condominium tower, but has been left vacant since 2008 and was fenced in, decrepit and covered in graffiti. The owners gave not-for-profit association Victoria Park Business Revitalisation Zone (Victoria Park BRZ) permission to use the site as a temporary park for between two and five years.

As part of a one day event in July 2012, volunteers helped build benches, paint over graffiti, plant native grasses and plants, and create pathways and decking areas.
“The site is no longer an eyesore encouraging illegal activities, and has provided a space for community members to sit outside and enjoy a coffee and good company along a popular retail and restaurant strip in Calgary’s city centre,” says Julie Brache, urban planning and development co-ordinator at Victoria Park BRZ.
“Some of the community members have assumed a sense of ownership over the park; watering it and watching over it in the summer months. The site was used for several community events in summer 2012, including an outdoor arts market curated by a local not-for-profit organisation and another smaller scale design/build event constructing more benches for the park in collaboration with the Faculty of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.”

Victoria Park BRZ has plans for other pop-ups on privately-owned, vacant land over the coming 18 months, ranging from multi-use plazas to food markets and restaurants.

In May 2011, Australia’s first pop-up park opened in Melbourne, featuring two synthetic soccer pitches, a barbeque area with picnic tables and a community garden.
The Pop-Up-Park in Dandenong, which was built for a minimum of two years, was created by the Victoria government’s sustainable urban development agency VicUrban. The agency partnered with Mission Australia Urban Renewal, employing unemployed local young people to build the park. The construction of the park took seven months, and funded 28 jobs.

“A combination of factors make the Pop-Up-Park a whole community space – location, accessibility, no cost, informal and formal activities and a sense of belonging,” says Jacquelin Saultry, social and cultural planner, Places Victoria. “The development process of the park involving young people has contributed to a sense of ownership and respect for the space. To date there has been no vandalism or anti-social behaviour at the park, a sign that young people respect it.”

The park has been used for events including festivals, soccer competitions, community gardening programmes, youth radio show broadcasts and school holiday programmes.

 



Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (before)
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (before)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (during)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (after)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (after)
 
Pop-up Spas

The idea of the pop-up spa seems to be a fairly new one, and most tend to be set up by product houses or existing spas as a way of promoting their product. Recent events include the Caudalie and the Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa Pop-Up Spas at Harrods in London last year and the Ainhoa City Spa at London St Pancras International Station, run from November 2012 to January 2013 by Spanish skincare brand Ainhoa.

One particularly interesting project comes in the shape of the Barking Bathhouse in Barking, London – the project is so interesting, in fact, that we decide to write a separate feature about it (see Hotseat, p32).

Set up during the summer 2012 as part of the Create Festival – the London 2012 Olympic art festival – the pop-up spa was created by design practice Something & Son and was open for 12 weeks from July 2012. Located in a car park, it resembled a giant beach hut from the outside, with its dark stained timber frame. Inside, it featured ‘the gravel pit’ – a shingle beach where spa goers could sunbathe, three treatment rooms, a wood-fired sauna, an ice room, a relaxation yard and an organic bar. Treatments were affordable and it became a highly popular social space, hosting events ranging from yoga sessions to comedy nights.

“Setting up a pop-up spa enabled us to be more innovative than if we were running a permanent spa,” says Paul Smyth, founder of Something & Son. “We didn’t have the pressure a permanent spa might have, so we could try out new ideas and focus on getting people in and having a great time. We learned what worked and what didn’t.”

The spa was funded by the local council, and was such a success that it is going to make the move from pop-up to permanent facility. The original spa was dismantled in October 2012, but Something & Son transformed four rooms into treatment rooms at the Barking Learning Centre so that the concept could continue over the winter. Later this year, a new Barking Bathhouse is set to open on Barking’s Cambridge Road.

Something & Son is currently in talks with Bristol City Council and Brighton Council about recreating the concept there. “They are interested, because there’s a real need for community spaces that are accessible for people on a range of incomes,” says Smyth. “We’d love to hear from anyone who might have innovative, sustainable ideas for spa design, or who could help us create a Bathhouse in every city.”

For an in depth interview with Paul Smyth about this project and others created by Something & Son, see p32.

 



The Urban Retreat at Harrods was transformed into the Caudalie Pop-Up Spa in July 2012
 


Facilities at the Barking Bathhouse spa in east London included a café and a relaxation garden
 
 


Facilities at the Barking Bathhouse spa in east London included a café and a relaxation garden
 
Pop-up Restaurants

The pop-up restaurant scene is now so well established, it hardly seems like a trend anymore. Pop-up restaurants are cheaper to set up than permanent restaurants, with fewer overheads, and they allow chefs and proprietors to be more creative and experimental.

They range from inexpensive supper clubs run from people’s homes to high end experiences catered for by Michelin-starred chefs. Often using social media to publicise themselves, these restaurants have been hugely popular with the public.

At the fine dining end of the spectrum, Electrolux launched the Cube in 2011 – a glass structure temporarily installed on top of famous landmarks in Stockholm, London, Milan and Brussels, serving gastronomic meals cooked by Michelin-starred chefs.

The Cube ended its seven-month run on top of London’s Royal Festival Hall on 31 December 2012, when chef Simon Rogan cooked a seven course menu for 20 guests, who had a stellar view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Before London, The Cube was open on top of the Royal Swedish Opera house, in Stockholm; the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium; and Number 1 Via Ugo Foscolo in Milan, Italy. The next location is currently under discussion, but we are assured that The Cube will be back sometime this year.

New York-based Guerrilla Culinary Brigade and German company Pret a Diner are just two of the hospitality companies who specialise in organising temporary culinary events. As we reported in the last issue of Leisure Management, Pret a Diner creates events with Michelin-starred chefs, art, music and social clubs – 2013 sees events taking place in Berlin, Basel, Rio, Frankfurt and London. The Guerrilla Culinary Brigade’s past events include The Pop Art Pop-Up, which saw New York hotel The Sanctuary transformed into a work of pop art, while 15-year-old chef Greg Grossman created dishes inspired by the work of artists including Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Roy Lichenstein.

Celebrity chefs have also been quick to get in on the act. Jamie Oliver is behind a range of temporary venues, including a four day pop-up version of Fifteen in John Lewis, a pop-up café on Southend Pier and a festive pop-up restaurant and bar at Brighton Pavilion Ice Rink. Meanwhile Gordon Ramsay launched a pop-up ‘hunting lodge’ at his York and Albany restaurant in London’s Camden. Running for a six week period until February, the space was decorated with tartan, animal skins, tweed and antlers.

And of course pop-up restaurants don’t have to be indoors. Dinner in the Sky has been serving food to diners suspended 100-ft up in the air for several years now. Up to 22 guests sit around the table before being hoisted up into the air, where a chef prepares their meal in the centre of the platform. Events have now taken place all over the world, from Monaco to Las Vegas.

While that might seem high, it’s nothing to an event that took place in February in Tanzania – 3,810m above sea level. Billed as the highest ever pop-up restaurant, it was set up on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of a charity climb to raise funds for non profit organisation Mama Hope. Sengalese chef Pierre Thiam was flown from New York to prepare the meal for the diners/climbers, who each paid $5,400 for the experience.

In Finland, meanwhile, a ‘pop-down’ restaurant was launched for 10 days in September in a former limestone mine in the town of Loha. Diners put on hard hats and descended 80m underground via a series of tunnels, where they were served a four course meal. The restaurant was set up by popular Helsinki restaurant Muru as part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.

 



Dinner in the Sky was launched by entrepreneurs Michael Gallant and Taj Jordan in July 2008
 


Temporary Finnish restaurant Muru Pops Down in Tytyri attracted huge attention when it opened in September 2012
 
 


Temporary Finnish restaurant Muru Pops Down in Tytyri attracted huge attention when it opened in September 2012
 
 


The Cube by Electrolux had a seven month run on top of London’s Royal Festival Hall
 
Pop-up Entertainment

Melbourne-based Chamber Made Opera organises a series of small-scale, edgy operas in people’s living rooms around the world. The Living Room Opera Series will see five specially-commissioned operas taking place during 2013, with the first in a sitting room in Bristol’s Clifton area. Other operas taking place this year include an interactive puppetry and animation opera inspired by the works of street artist Banksy and an Edible Flower Opera taking place in houses in Melbourne, Australia and in the countryside in Belgium.

Transforming unusual venues for theatre performances has been hugely popular in recent years, with British companies Punchdrunk and Shunt putting on immersive theatre events in locations including disused factories, railway arches, tunnels, an old distillery and deserted office blocks. These shows allow theatregoers to roam around the venue, choosing where to go and what to watch.

Punchdrunk’s current performance, Sleep No More, tells the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in its own unique way. The company has taken over The McKittrick Hotel in New York, and has transformed more than 100 rooms in cinematic detail, allowing the audience to move through the building and the story at their own pace.

Future Cinemas also creates immersive experiences, using films instead of theatre. Founded by Fabien Riggall in 2005, the company takes over buildings and large spaces to stage ‘cinema events’ in which film-goers become part of the story. Last year, Secret Cinema – an offshoot of Future Cinemas which sees the public buy tickets without knowing which film they will be watching – screened The Shawshank Redemption at a former hospital and old school in London’s East End. More than 13,000 people, who had all signed up online and paid £45 for their tickets – were ‘sentenced’ at Bethnal Green Library, then driven to the Cardinal Pole School in ‘prison vans’ driven by actors. The school was meticulously transformed into a prison complete with prison guards, laundry rooms and a prison canteen, and the audience were handed cold beers at the same moment the prisoners in the film cracked open a beer.

In October 2012, Secret Cinema launched Secret Hotels, which allows film-goers to continue the experience overnight, staying in accommodation inspired by the film they have just watched. At The Shawshank Redemption screening, those who had paid an extra £30 for the Secret Hotel experience stayed overnight in ‘cells’ in the school, and were made to do exercise in the ‘prison yard’ in the morning.

Secret Cinema is hosting simultaneous secret film screenings in London, New York and Athens in April.

 



Chamber Made Opera’s past performances include Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
 


Future Cinema has just finished a run of Casablanca at the Troxy in London’s Limehouse
 
 


Future Cinema has just finished a run of Casablanca at the Troxy in London’s Limehouse
 
 


Secret Cinema’s Shawshank Redemption experience saw cinema-goers bundled into prison vans
 
 


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Leisure Management
2013 issue 2

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Leisure Management - The pop-up trend has taken the leisure industry by storm

Pop-ups

The pop-up trend has taken the leisure industry by storm


From parks to spas, and hotels to cinemas, the pop-up trend has taken the leisure industry by storm. Magali Robathan takes a look at some of the world’s most innovative projects

Magali Robathan, CLAD mag

Pop-up Hotels

The hotel industry has got into the pop-up trend in a big way. Pop-up hotels range from cheap temporary accommodation often set up to provide lodgings for events and festivals to luxury high end facilities.

The Snoozebox Portable Hotel is created from stacked shipping containers, with each room featuring a double and a single bed, an ensuite wet-room, air conditioning, a flatscreen tv and free WiFi. The hotel provides temporary accommodation at a range of events and festivals across Europe – it will be appearing at events during 2013 including the Edinburgh Festival, the Formula 1 British Grand Prix and the Isle of Man TT 2013.

Sleepbox Hotel mobile capsules, created by Russian design studio Arch Group, can be installed into existing buildings to turn them into temporary hotels. Customers can book the capsules for a night or by the hour, and pay at a shared terminal, which issues them with an electronic key. The first Sleepbox opened at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in 2011.

Somerset company The Pop-Up Hotel creates a pop-up hotel experience in luxury safari tents at events and festivals across the UK. Guests get a tent already set up for them, with beds, towels, duvets and pillows, electric lighting and access to luxury showers and toilets, a hair and make up parlour and a restaurant and bar serving breakfasts and light snacks.

The Pop-Up Hotel ‘popped up’ at various events during 2012, including Glastonbury Festival, Goodwood Revival 2012 and the Big Festival, and is set to appear at a range of festivals and events this year.

Coming in with a slightly different take on the pop-up hotel idea is Berlin-based sales and marketing consortium Design Hotels™, which has transformed two existing hotels into Design Hotels for a short period of time. This allows hotel owners to try a luxury product on a temporary basis to see whether the demand is there.

Design Hotels launched its first pop-up resort at Papaya Playa in Tulum, Mexico in 2011. Eighty five cabanas were refurbished by the Design Hotels™ team, with the temporary resort open for six months – closing in May 2012. On the back of the success of this project, Design Hotels™ launched the San Giorgio Mykonos, a 34 bedroom hotel on the Greek island of Mykonos last summer. The San Giorgio Mykonos will reopen for the 2013 summer season in May.

 



The Pop-Up Hotel offers a glamping experience at festivals and events
 


The Snoozebox containers are easy to transport, and don’t require mains services
 
 


Design Hotels™ has temporaily transformed the San Giorgio Mykonos into a luxury property
 
 


Design Hotels™ has temporaily transformed the San Giorgio Mykonos into a luxury property
 
Pop-up Parks

Pop-up parks are an ingenious idea for temporarily regenerating vacant or underused land in urban areas crying out for more green space. These projects can help reclaim unsightly areas of land, bring vitality to an area and encourage community spirit.

In the Victoria Park area of Calgary, Canada, community volunteers have transformed a privately-owned vacant plot of land into two urban open spaces. The site was originally meant to be used for the creation of a high rise condominium tower, but has been left vacant since 2008 and was fenced in, decrepit and covered in graffiti. The owners gave not-for-profit association Victoria Park Business Revitalisation Zone (Victoria Park BRZ) permission to use the site as a temporary park for between two and five years.

As part of a one day event in July 2012, volunteers helped build benches, paint over graffiti, plant native grasses and plants, and create pathways and decking areas.
“The site is no longer an eyesore encouraging illegal activities, and has provided a space for community members to sit outside and enjoy a coffee and good company along a popular retail and restaurant strip in Calgary’s city centre,” says Julie Brache, urban planning and development co-ordinator at Victoria Park BRZ.
“Some of the community members have assumed a sense of ownership over the park; watering it and watching over it in the summer months. The site was used for several community events in summer 2012, including an outdoor arts market curated by a local not-for-profit organisation and another smaller scale design/build event constructing more benches for the park in collaboration with the Faculty of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary.”

Victoria Park BRZ has plans for other pop-ups on privately-owned, vacant land over the coming 18 months, ranging from multi-use plazas to food markets and restaurants.

In May 2011, Australia’s first pop-up park opened in Melbourne, featuring two synthetic soccer pitches, a barbeque area with picnic tables and a community garden.
The Pop-Up-Park in Dandenong, which was built for a minimum of two years, was created by the Victoria government’s sustainable urban development agency VicUrban. The agency partnered with Mission Australia Urban Renewal, employing unemployed local young people to build the park. The construction of the park took seven months, and funded 28 jobs.

“A combination of factors make the Pop-Up-Park a whole community space – location, accessibility, no cost, informal and formal activities and a sense of belonging,” says Jacquelin Saultry, social and cultural planner, Places Victoria. “The development process of the park involving young people has contributed to a sense of ownership and respect for the space. To date there has been no vandalism or anti-social behaviour at the park, a sign that young people respect it.”

The park has been used for events including festivals, soccer competitions, community gardening programmes, youth radio show broadcasts and school holiday programmes.

 



Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (before)
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (before)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (during)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (after)
 
 


Last July, volunteers in Calgary, Canada, turned a disused plot into a temporary park, complete with planters and benches - (after)
 
Pop-up Spas

The idea of the pop-up spa seems to be a fairly new one, and most tend to be set up by product houses or existing spas as a way of promoting their product. Recent events include the Caudalie and the Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa Pop-Up Spas at Harrods in London last year and the Ainhoa City Spa at London St Pancras International Station, run from November 2012 to January 2013 by Spanish skincare brand Ainhoa.

One particularly interesting project comes in the shape of the Barking Bathhouse in Barking, London – the project is so interesting, in fact, that we decide to write a separate feature about it (see Hotseat, p32).

Set up during the summer 2012 as part of the Create Festival – the London 2012 Olympic art festival – the pop-up spa was created by design practice Something & Son and was open for 12 weeks from July 2012. Located in a car park, it resembled a giant beach hut from the outside, with its dark stained timber frame. Inside, it featured ‘the gravel pit’ – a shingle beach where spa goers could sunbathe, three treatment rooms, a wood-fired sauna, an ice room, a relaxation yard and an organic bar. Treatments were affordable and it became a highly popular social space, hosting events ranging from yoga sessions to comedy nights.

“Setting up a pop-up spa enabled us to be more innovative than if we were running a permanent spa,” says Paul Smyth, founder of Something & Son. “We didn’t have the pressure a permanent spa might have, so we could try out new ideas and focus on getting people in and having a great time. We learned what worked and what didn’t.”

The spa was funded by the local council, and was such a success that it is going to make the move from pop-up to permanent facility. The original spa was dismantled in October 2012, but Something & Son transformed four rooms into treatment rooms at the Barking Learning Centre so that the concept could continue over the winter. Later this year, a new Barking Bathhouse is set to open on Barking’s Cambridge Road.

Something & Son is currently in talks with Bristol City Council and Brighton Council about recreating the concept there. “They are interested, because there’s a real need for community spaces that are accessible for people on a range of incomes,” says Smyth. “We’d love to hear from anyone who might have innovative, sustainable ideas for spa design, or who could help us create a Bathhouse in every city.”

For an in depth interview with Paul Smyth about this project and others created by Something & Son, see p32.

 



The Urban Retreat at Harrods was transformed into the Caudalie Pop-Up Spa in July 2012
 


Facilities at the Barking Bathhouse spa in east London included a café and a relaxation garden
 
 


Facilities at the Barking Bathhouse spa in east London included a café and a relaxation garden
 
Pop-up Restaurants

The pop-up restaurant scene is now so well established, it hardly seems like a trend anymore. Pop-up restaurants are cheaper to set up than permanent restaurants, with fewer overheads, and they allow chefs and proprietors to be more creative and experimental.

They range from inexpensive supper clubs run from people’s homes to high end experiences catered for by Michelin-starred chefs. Often using social media to publicise themselves, these restaurants have been hugely popular with the public.

At the fine dining end of the spectrum, Electrolux launched the Cube in 2011 – a glass structure temporarily installed on top of famous landmarks in Stockholm, London, Milan and Brussels, serving gastronomic meals cooked by Michelin-starred chefs.

The Cube ended its seven-month run on top of London’s Royal Festival Hall on 31 December 2012, when chef Simon Rogan cooked a seven course menu for 20 guests, who had a stellar view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Before London, The Cube was open on top of the Royal Swedish Opera house, in Stockholm; the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Belgium; and Number 1 Via Ugo Foscolo in Milan, Italy. The next location is currently under discussion, but we are assured that The Cube will be back sometime this year.

New York-based Guerrilla Culinary Brigade and German company Pret a Diner are just two of the hospitality companies who specialise in organising temporary culinary events. As we reported in the last issue of Leisure Management, Pret a Diner creates events with Michelin-starred chefs, art, music and social clubs – 2013 sees events taking place in Berlin, Basel, Rio, Frankfurt and London. The Guerrilla Culinary Brigade’s past events include The Pop Art Pop-Up, which saw New York hotel The Sanctuary transformed into a work of pop art, while 15-year-old chef Greg Grossman created dishes inspired by the work of artists including Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Roy Lichenstein.

Celebrity chefs have also been quick to get in on the act. Jamie Oliver is behind a range of temporary venues, including a four day pop-up version of Fifteen in John Lewis, a pop-up café on Southend Pier and a festive pop-up restaurant and bar at Brighton Pavilion Ice Rink. Meanwhile Gordon Ramsay launched a pop-up ‘hunting lodge’ at his York and Albany restaurant in London’s Camden. Running for a six week period until February, the space was decorated with tartan, animal skins, tweed and antlers.

And of course pop-up restaurants don’t have to be indoors. Dinner in the Sky has been serving food to diners suspended 100-ft up in the air for several years now. Up to 22 guests sit around the table before being hoisted up into the air, where a chef prepares their meal in the centre of the platform. Events have now taken place all over the world, from Monaco to Las Vegas.

While that might seem high, it’s nothing to an event that took place in February in Tanzania – 3,810m above sea level. Billed as the highest ever pop-up restaurant, it was set up on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of a charity climb to raise funds for non profit organisation Mama Hope. Sengalese chef Pierre Thiam was flown from New York to prepare the meal for the diners/climbers, who each paid $5,400 for the experience.

In Finland, meanwhile, a ‘pop-down’ restaurant was launched for 10 days in September in a former limestone mine in the town of Loha. Diners put on hard hats and descended 80m underground via a series of tunnels, where they were served a four course meal. The restaurant was set up by popular Helsinki restaurant Muru as part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.

 



Dinner in the Sky was launched by entrepreneurs Michael Gallant and Taj Jordan in July 2008
 


Temporary Finnish restaurant Muru Pops Down in Tytyri attracted huge attention when it opened in September 2012
 
 


Temporary Finnish restaurant Muru Pops Down in Tytyri attracted huge attention when it opened in September 2012
 
 


The Cube by Electrolux had a seven month run on top of London’s Royal Festival Hall
 
Pop-up Entertainment

Melbourne-based Chamber Made Opera organises a series of small-scale, edgy operas in people’s living rooms around the world. The Living Room Opera Series will see five specially-commissioned operas taking place during 2013, with the first in a sitting room in Bristol’s Clifton area. Other operas taking place this year include an interactive puppetry and animation opera inspired by the works of street artist Banksy and an Edible Flower Opera taking place in houses in Melbourne, Australia and in the countryside in Belgium.

Transforming unusual venues for theatre performances has been hugely popular in recent years, with British companies Punchdrunk and Shunt putting on immersive theatre events in locations including disused factories, railway arches, tunnels, an old distillery and deserted office blocks. These shows allow theatregoers to roam around the venue, choosing where to go and what to watch.

Punchdrunk’s current performance, Sleep No More, tells the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in its own unique way. The company has taken over The McKittrick Hotel in New York, and has transformed more than 100 rooms in cinematic detail, allowing the audience to move through the building and the story at their own pace.

Future Cinemas also creates immersive experiences, using films instead of theatre. Founded by Fabien Riggall in 2005, the company takes over buildings and large spaces to stage ‘cinema events’ in which film-goers become part of the story. Last year, Secret Cinema – an offshoot of Future Cinemas which sees the public buy tickets without knowing which film they will be watching – screened The Shawshank Redemption at a former hospital and old school in London’s East End. More than 13,000 people, who had all signed up online and paid £45 for their tickets – were ‘sentenced’ at Bethnal Green Library, then driven to the Cardinal Pole School in ‘prison vans’ driven by actors. The school was meticulously transformed into a prison complete with prison guards, laundry rooms and a prison canteen, and the audience were handed cold beers at the same moment the prisoners in the film cracked open a beer.

In October 2012, Secret Cinema launched Secret Hotels, which allows film-goers to continue the experience overnight, staying in accommodation inspired by the film they have just watched. At The Shawshank Redemption screening, those who had paid an extra £30 for the Secret Hotel experience stayed overnight in ‘cells’ in the school, and were made to do exercise in the ‘prison yard’ in the morning.

Secret Cinema is hosting simultaneous secret film screenings in London, New York and Athens in April.

 



Chamber Made Opera’s past performances include Ophelia Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
 


Future Cinema has just finished a run of Casablanca at the Troxy in London’s Limehouse
 
 


Future Cinema has just finished a run of Casablanca at the Troxy in London’s Limehouse
 
 


Secret Cinema’s Shawshank Redemption experience saw cinema-goers bundled into prison vans
 

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 2

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