Installations and interventions

From pop-ups to playgrounds – temporary projects are as diverse as the communities they engage.

Space is at a premium in cities around the world. As private dwellings become smaller, communities are demanding more from their public spaces.

Our clients in all sectors set ambitious goals for the programming and activation of their sites. And we respond by designing experiences that attract, engage and inspire communities.


We embrace temporary projects of all scales as vehicles for testing ideas. These projects provide opportunities to quickly test new ideas for how public places can be used and occupied.

Work of this kind by Hassell includes reclaim-the-streets events, temporary urban forests, popup playgrounds, colourful street-marking for outdoor games, and sensory installations that play with sound, sight and smell.

The ingenuity of these projects – aside from their low cost – is in their guerrilla style of design and execution. Offering flexibility of form, scale and purpose, temporary activations’ can help bring ideas to life and communities together.

These varied projects are a fantastic way to explore and test design ideas, and a fantastic way to connect directly with the community in the cities we work in.”

Tom Herron, Hassell Principal


We collect valuable insights by observing the public response to these temporary offerings – both onsite and in the media.

We also learn fast, practical lessons over their condensed project lifecycles. These insights provide designers with fresh strategies for public engagement. They can also inform larger or more permanent public development projects, helping to secure their long-term popularity and success.

Before closing Times Square to cars, New York City used deck chairs and road cones to quickly test the impact of a closure before committing to a costly redevelopment plan.”

New York Times

Some of our short term activations



  • Transplanted more than 100 coffee trees to recreate a terraced coffee farm in the centre of the Melbourne’s bustling city
  • Constructed using shipping materials to tell the story of coffee’, inspiring coffee drinkers to think about its origins, production and transport
  • Visitors enjoyed some of the best coffee in Australia from top baristas

An enormous success, beyond even our own expectations. It has proven that there is a voracious hunger in this city for unique and extraordinary concepts that inspire us and harness our creativity, while triggering buzz across the globe.”

Natalie O’Brien, CEO, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Image: Bonnie Savage



  • Transformed an overlooked public square in East London transformed into a place of respite during the busy festival
  • Used interactive and immersive digital and lighting technologies to provide real-time London pollution data
  • Collaboration with Art + Believe and Arup

The harmful quality of London’s air has become a public health emergency … Unlike the smoky pollution of the past, today’s pollution is invisible and it’s a hidden killer.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Image: David Jensen



  • Commissioned by local council to re-establish the high street as a place of enterprise and community
  • Transformed a vacant tenancy into the South End Ideas Shop’ – a hub to shape the community’s vision for the street
  • Improved tired shopfronts, pedestrianised and planted the street, and created a Meanwhile Toolkit’ of pop-up uses to bring shops back to life
  • Shop vacancies reduced from 25% to just 5%
  • Increase in restaurant license and planning applications that take dining into the public realm
  • Local pride expressed in positive feedback from businesses and residents to Council

Playful and well done … a lovely little vignette. Suddenly it becomes a place where you might want to loiter rather than hurry along.”

Amanda Levete, Royal Institute of British Architects MacEwen Award jury member

View project
Image: Jakob Spriestersbach



  • Transformed Melbourne’s only recognised Afghan precinct into an attractive gathering place 
  • Extensive community consultation to express the place’s Afghan identity and support cultural uses
  • Geometry of gathering’ design reinterprets the extraordinary tiling of Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif (Blue Mosque)
  • Public artwork Afghan-Australian artist symbolises history and friendship

The streetscape design has been a collaborative effort between traders, community leaders and precinct stakeholders and the end result is a vibrant precinct which celebrates the Afghan people.”

Jim Memeti, Mayor, City of Greater Dandenong

Image: Andrew Lloyd



  • Designed to provide a moment away from the chaos of Hong Kong’s largest music and arts festival
  • Futuristic, mirrored box design blends into the landscape, contrasting with the intimate, cave-like space within
  • Enjoyed by all ages, from adults to children

Take a step inside and motion detectors will capture your movement, then project them onto the wall – a reminder of the digital footprints we leave behind everyday and how we use them to tell our own story.”

Rachel Cheung, South China Morning Post’

View project
Image: Rae Hu

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