Mega-Market

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABarcelona’s biggest market, Mercat Sant Antoni, has finally opened its doors after a renovation process lasting nearly a decade. The original market, by architect Antoni Rovira i Trias, was completed in 1882 within the then-new Eixample district, occupying an entire city block with a diagonal cruciform configuration that intelligently places entrances at every street-intersection. With its multiple access-points (there are also four mid-block entrances) and its seamless integration with the urban infrastructure, Mercat Sant Antoni was effectively a megastructure nearly a century before these became an architectural thing. A “mini-megastructure”, perhaps, but prototypical nevertheless.

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First of four underground levels, with a rampart fragment unearthed on the site.

Now, with the addition of four new levels underground –one level contains a supermarket as well as a neighbourhood multi-use space exhibiting archaeological ruins uncovered during the big dig, another underground level is a loading and unloading area for dozens of delivery trucks at a time, and two more levels contain underground parking– this is even more of a megastructure. To boot, the block that the market occupies now forms part of a “superilla“, or a superbock within which streets have been converted into greenways, intersections into public squares, and motor-traffic has been reduced and calmed beyond recognition. A superilla-mini-megastructure?

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This was previously a busy traffic intersection, now it’s a small square within a “Superilla”

The renovation of Mercat Sant Antoni by Pere Joan Ravetllat and Carme Ribas has all the characteristics of the kinds of projects that earned Barcelona its fame in the Olympic era: the creation of inviting outdoor public spaces, the seamless integration of such public spaces with public infrastructure (the city’s markets were originally conceived as nodes of a food distribution system), and the sensitive restoration of architectural heritage, in this case a landmark modernista building. It’s certainly an occasion to be celebrated.

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One of the market’s eight street entrances

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The panopticon-like market’s central dome

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The underground loading and unloading zone

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Ramps descending to the loading and unloading zone

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First underground level, with archaeological wall and supermarket

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A rampart fragment exhibited à la Richard Serra

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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 have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture, CIEE Architecture and Design program, as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

One comment

  1. Wow! Thanks for this update and great summary! Can’t wait to visit it! Yummieeee

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