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Spatial experiences: Permanent venues to limited editions

Whereas permanent venues soon get taken for granted, limited editions enhance the sense of occasion. Temporary events and venues can be sure of attention.
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This article originally featured in the 05/2018 edition of CIM Magazine. It has been republished with CIM's full permission.

Whereas permanent venues soon get taken for granted, limited editions enhance the sense of occasion. Temporary events and venues can be sure of attention.

What remains in the memory? This is a question asked in the fourth quarter by anyone inclined to review the year. Strong images and emotions are often what makes something memorable. Events anchor content in participants’ minds through forms of staging or presentation that remain in the memory as situations. This is how events at temporary events can have an enduring impact. Once all traces of the event or its venue have gone, we fill the gap with our memories and the emotions associated with them.

“Temporary Projects, Eternal Impressions” is the title of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monograph of their artworks. From 19 June to 9 September 2018, Christo exhibited another eye-catching work of art, the London Mastaba, in London’s Hyde Park. Anyone who saw the temporary sculpture, a pyramid of 7,506 oil barrels, rising to a height of 20 metres, will not easily forget it. The transience of a temporary artwork conveys a sense of fragility and even vulnerability. People are driven to see it because they know that tomorrow it will no longer be there, believes Christo. Part of the magic of these artworks is that, afterwards, there is no trace of them left in the public spaces they occupied for a limited period.

Temporary venues are currently in great demand. They are a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to using an existing building and can be customised to meet requirements exactly and dismantled after use. The concept was implemented to exemplary effect at the London Olympics in 2012. A coherent legacy strategy has ensured that venues do not become white elephants: The 54,000-seat Olympic Stadium hosted Rugby World Cup games in 2015 and the World Championships in Athletics in 2017. In Brazil, on the other hand, the 12 stadiums used to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including the new 72,000-seat national stadium in Brasilia, which was built at a cost of 426 m euros, are used only sporadically for pop concerts. After the World Cup in 2022, Qatar plans to dismantle most of the stadiums and donate them in consultation with FIFA.

Fashion Week events lend themselves to lavish staging in temporary venues. In October Karl Lagerfeld transformed the Grand Palais into “Chanel By the Sea” in order to present Chanel’s latest collection. There was a beach with real sand, and you could hear seagulls.

“At a time of communication overkill, and given the constant search for new ways to stand out, temporary venues are becoming increasingly important. Added to that, any digital brand communication strategy needs to be complemented by real, spatial experiences,” observes Johannes Milla, CEO and Creative Director of Milla & Partner. International brand communication also requires a local presence and regional identification. Milla realised the pop-up pavilion “Metro Unboxed” on the bank of the Rhine in Düsseldorf in 2017.

Each of the 25 countries in which Metro has stores took a stand in the sustainable temporary building. The pavilion offered visitors both analogue and digital experiences, including a virtual tour through a real market. Steps down to the river bank and its use as a venue for the düsseldorf festival, which took place at the same time, invited passers-by to participate. Milla recognises that roadshows in pedestrian zones and public spaces are often experienced as a nuisance. “The appropriation of public space is the downside of temporary venues. Sensitivity, a thorough appreciation of how urban surroundings are experienced, good design, quality and respect for the public are essential.”

"Pop-up shops are increasingly being used to support events or stands in roadshows and promotional activities,” says Wolfgang Altenstrasser, Communications Director at the Vok Dams Group. The BASF Creator Space Tour owed much of its success to the ease with which the furniture could be transported around the world and the scope for making local adjustments to the modular architecture kit. The tour stopped off in Mumbai, Shanghai, New York, Sao Paulo, Barcelona and Ludwigshafen and offered industry experts a platform for discussing key economic, environmental and social challenges.

“The architecture of the workshop rooms was a common visual element linking them. The furniture blended in well with the design museums and other venues used, providing a creative working atmosphere. Some of the transport packing was used for interior design purposes. The tops of the boxes doubled as tables and whiteboards, for example,” explains Altenstrasser. “The materials and colours were chosen to tie in with BASF’s CI, thus creating the right look and feel. This both reflected the corporate culture of BASF, the initiator of the Creator Space, and provided inspiration for the innovative formats.”

Imaginatively staged company events in unusual “new” locations are appreciated by staff and improve their identification with the company. That was demonstrated by an anniversary celebration at the Stuttgart-based company eventuality. The mechanical engineering company transformed its production facility into an event venue for 2,500 participants. “In addition to staging an emotive and artistically impressive time travel show and an informative and entertaining accompanying programme, we are proud to have kept production downtime to a minimum and created such an impactful experience,” says Oliver Brixel, a member of eventuality’s Senior Management Team. “At the same time, we were careful to consider all the safety aspects associated with a temporary venue.”

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