By Moya Maxwell, head of venues at RIBA
Who doesn’t love the summer months? The sun is shining (some of the time), pub gardens we had forgotten existed are unearthed and, everywhere you look, brands conjure up fun and attention-grabbing pop-ups.
These experiential pop-ups aim to capture the eye of the consumer. In the hospitality world, temporary structures can enhance a summer event, providing guests with a unique and stand-out experience as part of their conference, meeting, summer party, dinner or reception.
This year, we have launched our own summer hospitality pop-up situated on our fourth floor terrace at RIBA’s headquarters, 66 Portland Place. Available for exclusive use for up to 40 people our brightly coloured pop-up, the Befriending Project, will serve as a unique outdoor space for clients to entertain their teams on a summers evening, either as a standalone event or as a part of a meeting or conference.
Setting up a seasonal pop-up can present certain challenges to venues. However, working hard to overcome these initial trials, the RIBA team has found that this type of project is ultimately a valuable way to enhance delegates’ experience of the spaces we have to offer.
Here are few of the challenges we’ve needed to consider before launching our pop-up:
How will the pop-up fit in with your venue?
The Befriending Project pop up, was designed by Merrett Houmøller Architects Peter Merrett and Robert Houmøller and was selected from entries to the RIBA Architecture Open 2017, which was driven by the theme ‘Beyond Borders’. The initiative behind the Befriending Project is to encourage individuals to gather together to cook and eat a meal, with the aim of promoting a sense of togetherness, while breaking down boundaries.
What type of experience will satisfy wide ranging audiences?
RIBA receives enquiries from many different business sectors including fashion, media, technology and corporate. Therefore, it was important for us to offer a pop-up that would suit the ideals of all types of companies. The theme of social dining is something we considered apt as a summer experience for all delegates.
What food fits with the concept?
Bearing this message in mind, it was important to create a food offering that encouraged sharing and aimed to open up discussion and break down barriers to conversation. Event caterer Harbour & Jones have designed a menu that embraces the theme of social dining. The food stations feature dishes from around the world and offer an interactive and original take on popular street food. Guests can choose from a range of options, including light and fresh summer rolls filled with rice noodles and pickled vegetables, topped with hot freshly cooked chicken or Japanese omelette, on trend tacos and burritos with peppers, guacamole, cheese and sour cream, beef or black beans, or steamed buns and dim sum with chicken, mushrooms, noodles and traditional broth.
What to do when the pop-up is taken down?
Rather than being put into storage, our Befriending Project pop-up will be donated to the British Red Cross who will move the mobile unit between different communities in London to bring together vulnerable young people who have crossed borders to get to the UK.
Since its July launch, the Befriending Project has already been a popular addition to our events offering. We hope to see plenty of friendly faces enjoying our pop-up for the remainder of the summer, until it is donated to the British Red Cross in September.