Construction as Spectacle: Mercat dels Encants

The construction of the new Mercat dels Encants / Fira de Bellcaire (Barcelona’s flea market), by b720 Arquitectos, is not only spectacular but also quite unusual, as it is being built completely without scaffolding. Large sections of the building are first fabricated on the ground before being elevated and fastened into place, a process similar to the way the nearby MediaTIC building by Cloud 9 was erected. However, there is a marked difference here: the columns along which the market’s roof segments slide up are incredibly slender, looking as though they might collapse at any moment under the loads they support. In the end, it is of course the very roof structure that will finally provide lateral stability to the building. But until that moment, this site remains an unnerving sight.

Was it Frank Gehry who famously said once that buildings are generally more interesting under construction than finished? It will be interesting to see if that holds true in the case of this building.

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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