The People’s Canopy

The People’s Canopy is the result of a year-long collaboration between In Certain Places (ICP) at the University of Central Lancashire and People’s Architecture Office (PAO), Beijing.

Specially designed for the city of Preston by PAO, on the theme of the city as a meeting place, the People’s Canopy is a unique piece of mobile architecture; a two-storey high expandable roof structure on bicycle wheels. The ten units are designed to collapse to the size of a double decker bus to be pedalled from one location to another and thereby transform underused public spaces; spaces for auto transport are turned into spaces for pedestrians and events, and open streets connected.

The aim of the project was to develop a bespoke, temporary architectural intervention for Preston that would create new, visible connections between the university and the city centre, as well as celebrate UCLan’s international links.

The People’s Canopy took centre stage at the inaugural Lancashire Encounter festival, after appearing at UCLan in September 2015. Cycled into the city centre by over 50 volunteers from the university and accompanied by a procession of cyclists from all over Preston, it was host and home to commissioned artworks, community gatherings, performances, workshops, meetings, interventions and a wide spectrum of creative activity. For three days it provided a social space in which communities from both the university and the wider city could share ideas, culture and traditions.

The People’s Canopy has since exhibited at the Beijing Culture and Art Center and taken part at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture, Hong Kong 2015/16. It was announced in March 2016 that the Canopy has been selected as a Finalist in the Architizer A+ Awards, making the work amongst just a handful in the world competing for the two most sought after awards: The Architizer A+ Jury Award and the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award.

Residents of Leuven in Belgium cycled six canopies through the city to Ladeuzeplein for the Utopia festival in 2016. The canopies provided shelter for visitors to enjoy world cuisine, live jazz and festival workshops.

The People’s Canopy was also used in Shenzhen at the Shekou Design Museum, founded by China Merchants and the V&A, and exhibited as part of the 14th Venice Architecture Bienniale.

Click here for more information about the research and development of the commission and to listen to PAO Architect James Shen’s public talk.
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The People’s Canopy has been supported by the Contemporary Arts Development Group (CADG) in the School of Art, Design and Fashion at the University of Central Lancashire.