AIAHR Pop Up Park: “BLOCK PARTY” Progress

AIA Hampton Roads has embarked on an exciting partnership with the Park Place neighborhood in Norfolk, VA, as part of its strategic plan to better communicate the value of architecture to the general public. The overarching goal? To convey the profound impact architecture has on everyday life and well-being.

The decision to collaborate with the community and create a pop-up park emerged as a creative and impactful way to bring this message to life. The vision is to craft a temporary outdoor "play and just be" space where the community can come together. The unveiling will take place during a ribbon-cutting Block Party event scheduled for Saturday, November 4th, with the Block Park remaining open throughout the weekend.

As the design and production lead, Hanbury's Tony Lin shares some exciting progress made over the past few months.


Midjourney concept rendering, assembled blocks in various stages of completion at the 757 Makerspace 


The Mission:

  • Activate and highlight the importance of community green spaces
  • Foster a sense of community utilizing a creative design approach
  • Empower the neighborhood to cultivate meaningful connections with their spaces
  • Increase public understanding of what architects do through a collaborative design process
  • Give back and spread joy to an underserved neighborhood


Approaching the design and fabrication of this project with an 🍊range Juice mindset, we developed the concept of the "Block Party", consisting of 50+ modular plywood blocks that can be moved, stacked, and rearranged on the site to act as seating, tables, and play objects for games. The block system adds a degree of flexibility and agency to the experience of the park, allowing users to experiment with block arrangements that adapt the space to various programs and activities.


                                                                                                                            Various ways the blocks can be used


The finished blocks themselves are a result of participatory play, as each one is assembled by volunteers choosing from seven-panel types to create blocks with unique combinations of handles and openings. Some will also feature designs painted by local artists.


Plywood block types


By designing for CNC fabrication, we were able to mass-produce the blocks with high tolerances and greatly reduce the total amount of manual labor. The blocks are tight-fitting and can be assembled without glue or screws, although we later opted to use glue so they would last longer in outdoor weather.


Fabrication process


A huge shoutout to the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk, which has generously provided us with the equipment and storage space for this ambitious project as well as the volunteers who have contributed their Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings to this effort.

For more information on this event, visit AIA Hampton Roads - Events (

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