Urban marketplaces have thrived for centuries: from the Agora of ancient Greece to the Forum in Rome, people have flocked to public gathering spaces looking not only to buy and sell all manner of goods, but also — significantly — to socialize with their fellow citizens. Markets, in all their many forms, are vibrant communal hubs, melting pots of immense civic value and one of the main landmarks of many a city around the globe.
The original marketplace: the Forum in Rome, via History.
The fundamental value has never diminished, but the nature of the marketplace has: consumers expect more choice than ever, and sellers demand the flexibility of space and facilities to be able to provide a retail experience that rivals that of standalone shops. The rise of supermarket chains in the heart of cities has increased the competition beyond all recognition, meaning that the proprietors of temporary stalls/booths must fight harder than ever to attract customers.
This is where the architects come in. Market clients are calling for increasingly slick designs that are both functional and visually striking in order to draw pedestrians away from the Walmarts of the world and back into the traditional arena for business transactions. Here are seven such projects to emerge in recent years: take a walk between these striking stalls and be sure to hit the links for more information and images of each building on the Architizer database.
The iconic rehabilitation of this historic market in central Barcelona involved the draping of a vast tiled roof across the square, an undulating wave of pixelated color that shelters the market stalls beneath.
The grand elliptical layout of Bursa’s wholesale market in Turkey is influenced by the traditional vaulted bazaars of Central Asia while providing a modern hub for the varied activities of producers, brokers, and retailers in northwestern Turkey.
Manlleu hosts another modern intervention in Spain’s second-largest city. The space is united by a folding plane of zinc that allows light and ventilation into the heart of the market, while the timber louvers are left with their natural finish to contrast with the metal envelope.
This majestic Gothic-inspired hall in Ghent is part of a rejuvenation plan for the heart of the city, its soaring timber roofs forming a distinctive silhouette that pays homage to the spires of St. Nicholas Church, Belfry, and Cathedral. The roof planes are punctuated with a constellation of slit windows that transform the market into an illuminated sculpture by night.
The compact triangular site in one of Istanbul’s densest neighborhoods was entirely covered with a concrete shell that folds down at the corners, providing shelter while maintaining unimpeded access to the market stalls from every adjacent street.
The design of this market in southern suburbs of the French capital anticipates the arrival of a new Grand Paris Express, with a future station to be situated adjacent to the building. The timber-and-steel box cantilevers over the sidewalk to the west, providing a covered gallery that shelters the main entrance and allows stalls to spill out into the public realm.
MVRDV’s landmark civic arch in Rotterdam combines the traditional open floor of a market with a series of apartments that wrap up and over the flexible retail space below. Vibrant murals adorn the interior of the arch while huge glazed walls at either end protect shoppers and market sellers from the elements.