Holiday Pop-Up Shops

Our downtown Iowa City pop-up shop concept provides simplicity, warmth, and festivity.

The shop’s familiar silhouette, with its slender gable roof and wrapped envelope, presents a whimsical symbol of the season that children and adults can both enjoy. Its look and feel draw from Nordic houses’ wintery charisma and the Danish notion of hygge, a philosophy that roughly translates to ‘coziness of the soul’ and the pursuit of homespun pleasures: candlelight, woolen mittens, warm apple cider, and community. It brings to mind festive imagery such as a warm cottage, a steeple, or a pointy stocking cap. On each end of the shop, ramps provide accessible entry and guide visitors through a procession where they can view and reach merchandise displays with ease. The ramps fold upward to secure the shop when not in use. When preferred, shopkeepers can open the shop’s walls to create impromptu points of sale for customers in the plaza outside. After dark, translucent walls emit a soft glow and create a beacon that will draw visitors near for a peek inside. Festive patterns etched around the entrances elicit the tactile pleasure of unwrapping a present. Together, the shops create a luminous village of activity; one that will leave a warm impression on visitors for seasons to come.

Construction Narrative

The shop uses thoughtful effciency to bring the Plaza playful holiday cheer while granting shopkeepers the fexibility to best display and sell their wares. Conventional panel dimensions, member sizes, and connection hardware facilitate easy setup, teardown, and reuse while minimizing material waste. The shop is fabricated off-site in 4’x6’x15’ modules that are then assembled and fnished on site, a process that saves cost and time while allowing for site-specifc adjustments. Slatted wood fooring over 2x treated sleepers lifts the foor above the paving, provides fexibility for electrical cabling, and maximizes ease of access by minimizing the slopes of the shop’s ADA-compliant ramps. These ramps can hinge upward when needed to secure the shop’s doorways. Steel-stiffened dimensional lumber frames support spaced wood purlins. These purlins regulate the fexible shelving system and anchor the exterior’s clear polycarbonate sheathing panels over both walls and roof. Wood shelves, easily reconfgurable, can be installed along one wall, both, or as desired. Off-the-shelf LED tape along the eaves and wall bases lend the polycarbonate a soft, even glow at in the evening. Laser-perforated 1/8” thick plywood panels behind the polycarbonate at either entry cast dappled light, providing opportunities for festive patterns or downtown district branding. The shop fexibly accommodates two primary modes of use. In one confguration, shoppers fle through the intimate space, incorporating its interior passage into their holiday shopping experience. In another, the shopkeeper remains inside and interacts with clientele outside through generous operable openings. In this scenario, the shopkeeper’s goods may be displayed from inside or set up outside, below the point of sale counter. An electrical space heater provides localized warmth when the shop’s walls and doors are open and regulates the shop temperature more fully when only a few openings are used, such as the point of sale. Electrical receptacles will be provided throughout.

Project Type



Iowa City Downtown District


Iowa City, Iowa


96 SF
per shop




TD Builders