Ideas for reviving flagging public markets as places to shop, eat and meet were presented by experts at an international conference in Barcelona this week. With many public markets struggling to adapt to changing patterns of shopping the need for design and innovation has never been stronger, and the answer lies in creating a sense of place.
In the US and the UK there are signs of significant consumer shifts, with a growing interest in locally sourced food. This is a response to a situation where 15 multinational companies control 30% of the world market. Larry Lund, economic analyst and Principal of the Chicago-based Real Estate Planning Group, said that for the first time in U.S. history, dollars spent at food service places are ready to surpass grocery stores. Many public markets are now offering more “ready-made” food options, and extending their days/hours of operation in response to these changes.
One of the most notable design-led interventions in the last decade has been in the old central market in Rotterdam, which was in serial decline. A team of developers, architects, and council members, responded by plans for a visionary multi-million Euro public-private market venture. They have created what is described as a “remarkable hybrid space that represents a new frontier of markets. Along with over 500 vendor stalls and retail shops, the building contains numerous restaurants and cafés, an underground supermarket, a massive parking garage, and 230 residential housing units. The market serves an average of 135,000 visitors a week, and by the end of its first year it is expected have served from 7 to 10 million visitors.” For more detials and photos click here.
Larry Lund says, “It’s all about the sense of place.” People are looking for a place to gather, to connect and participate, and they are “searching out places where they can do this—even in the grocery store.”
For more on challenges to public markets click here.