Newly Completed Market Halls That Revitalize Their Urban Communities
Market halls have long held a prominent position in the rich tapestry of architectural history, serving as vibrant hubs for commerce, community, and culture. Characterized by their imposing structures and bustling interiors, they have played an integral role in shaping urban landscapes and facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas throughout the centuries.
From ancient agoras and bazaars to the grand marketplaces of the Renaissance and the modern-day food halls that have undergone a renaissance of their own, market halls stand as a testament to the enduring synergy between architecture, economic activity, and the social fabric of society. These four newly completed projects from around the globe are proof that the highly specialized structures have lost none of their appeal– and exemplify how they can revitalize communities by bridging commercial and cultural functions as well as the past, present, and future.
Located right in the center of the old Manchegan city, the historic market hall of Abastos was recently restored to its former glory by Studio Metamorphosis. While keeping with the building’s legacy as a hub of commerce, the architects also wanted to create “a more versatile space that was updated to the 21st century, where a multitude of cultural activities could be carried out in addition to being a gastronomic and commercial space.”
Their approach: connecting the exterior market square and indoor hall through a series of new ramps and platforms that showcase the local Almagro stone and increase accessibility and wayfinding. A user-centric mindset also governed the design of the 27 indoor stalls, arranged as flexible modules and surrounded by a metal structure that integrates into the original building to visually connect past and present. Natural pine wood is added as a warmer material, also present in the interior furniture.
Another historic building elevated by a new metal structure is the Oaxaca Gastronomic Center by RootStudio. The 16th-century convent of Carmen Alto was restored using “traditional construction techniques and materials such as lime, brick, wood, and green quarry stone, respecting the original materiality and recovering the architectural layout”, explain the architects.
New steel elements and a solar system were added to the property as a way to integrate modernity into the educational and multidisciplinary space. Accessibility was also paramount, along with the elevation of local talent in the structure’s interiors, where the production of custom furniture, as well as wall art, was entrusted to Oaxacan master carpenters and artists. The result is a “versatile place that stimulates community integration and harmonizes with areas for education and an exhibition area.”
Though the French office Studiolada typically specializes in refurbishment, they were glad at the opportunity to partake in a national government initiative to revitalize medium-sized cities with their market project in Saint-Dizier. Through its location in a formerly abandoned part of town opposite a historic castle, the modern building ‘proposes a dialogue between contemporary architecture and the ancient center’ and plays a key role in recreating a truly local economy.
“The overall constructive principle is a mixed structure composed of stone, wood, and steel,” explain the architects, while emphasizing that these choices “bolster the value of crafts, know-how and the art of construction” to return power to local craftspeople and builders. Arches made from stone sourced at a nearby quarry dialogue with wooden framework rib vaults throughout the building that house local merchants like bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and greengrocers.
Another market project that references the past with new construction is the Gushan Fish Market in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung. Architects C.M. Chao demolished much of the original 1927 building and repurposed its materials in a new structure that acts both as a transport hub and commerce center. Aiming to “make the building invisible”, the design team blurred the boundaries between landscape, ocean, and light with a 330-meter-long transparent glass box concept.
The goal of the renovation was to preserve local history while at the same time exploring new ways to engage the public and revitalize the local economy and tourism. The building’s highly photogenic aesthetics also serve this goal, with specially processed ‘bubble’ glass and a detailed lighting concept for nighttime.