Modular solutions: Disaster, hiatus and opportunity in the ‘meanwhile’ city

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Recently increased attention has been devoted to the transient nature of the urban built environment as it strives to adapt to the increasingly dynamic global socioeconomic and environmental forces of the twenty first century. Primarily, this involves studying the increased adaptation of land and buildings through traditional methods of renovation, change in use, demolition and new construction. However, a growing body of research in this area is examining the increased frequency, and duration, of hiatus between one use and the next – particularly the opportunity such gaps in activity provide for temporary ‘meanwhile uses’, often via modular solutions – to combat urban vacancy and blight. This emerging focus forms the basis for this paper, how can physical modular solutions be used to adapt to an increasingly unstable urban environment? The paper investigates this process through a comparative study of three (divergent) international case studies. First, pop-up social enterprise events in the then vacant Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices in Belfast, Northern Ireland; second, a shipping container garden in a disused riverside area in Gateshead, England; and, third, the modular response (RE:Start Mall) to the destruction of the retail centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, following the devastating 2011 earthquake. The objective is to draw out key lessons from existing modular ‘meanwhile uses’ that can be used to develop the platform for a normalised modularisation of cities discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018
EventRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018: Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography - Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Aug 201831 Aug 2018


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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