Credit: Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Alga(e)zebo
Songboard by Central St Martins art school is a popular interactive wall installation.
Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Songboard by Central St Martins art school is a popular interactive wall installation.

There’s something different about the London Olympics, and a lot of that difference stems from the role of design in this year’s games. Blaine Brownell calls it progress. Many architects and designers would agree.

Treehugger reports on four architecture schools’ efforts to showcase pop-up architecture through a series called “WONDER,” which places interactive structures all over town. Londoners are taking to the pavilions, Bonnie Alter writes in Treehugger. Talking about a three large markers near the subway, called Tr(ee)logy, she says, “They already look like they have always been there, with people camped out at their base.” People are playing with the songboard installation, rotating the yellow balls to spell out their names and then snapping photos next to their designs. “Lots of action at this one,” Alter writes.

Passesrby are taking to the pavilions, too. Will they be disappointed when the temporary structures are removed after the Olympic torches stop burning? “The real challenge to pavilions stems from the public’s perception of buildings as enduring structures,” Brownell writes in a piece on pavilions, and how they will, if allowed, shape the future of architecture. “Pavilions are model platforms for exploration,” he says. But unlike in the fashion industry or the automotive field, the radical ideas don’t transfer to mass production.

This year’s Olympics may be changing all that. In an interview with the firm Populous, Olympic Stadium designer, ARCHITECT’s Lindsey M. Roberts reports that the temporary structures are what’s giving this year’s games its zeal. Populous, she writes, “decided that as London already had many historic, iconic landmarks, it would let the city—and not a show-stopping new building—take center stage.”