The Municipal Market of Santa Maria da Feira by Fernando Távora is an iconic building of the 1950s; a modernist gem signifying a transition from an era of wars to an era of hope, by celebrating modern architecture along with traditional crafts. The building is conceived as as a social place, an ‘agora’ in the sense of the ancient greek agora, serving both as a public space for the community, but also a place for commercial exchange. For this purpose the market has a unique distribution of open, semi-closed and closed spaces.
Moreover, following the roman cloister, the market uses covered archways in a spiral formation and the central patio as a way to enhance community life in its core. Today, the market is being underused, overlooked and possibly in need of a new transition. What type of transition do we envision for the space of the market today? We propose a new core around which people will gather, by highlighting the qualities of the building itself. How can we encapsulate the spirit of the building and shed light to its architectural wealth? Observing the way in which the arches embrace the covered space and its furniture, we developed an idea that focuses on this double need to highlight the building’s geometry and to invite people in its core.
Atraktos in greek means a rotating lever, a metaphor for the potential leverage of public life through an artistic intervention. Inspired by the sharp geometries of the market building, from the triangular patterns found in the tiles to the ‘butterfly’ shape of the suspended concrete roof, we propose a lighting installation that highlights its architecture. The idea is to bring the backbone of the building to the limelight by introducing a kind of lighting spine by introducing a new, yet familiar geometry and propose a large-scale architectural luminary.
This lighting installation is born as an organism suspended from the ‘butterfly’ beams, a large-scale fossil growing on the building. It is made of large tetrahedral modules, joint together into a spinal cord, which is then adorned with two types of lighting to create different patterns of light. The artwork invites people to enter a corridor of light. On one side, the light highlights the triangular forms, while walking inside the corridor reveals its inner world of light caustics. At the same time, we proposed two workshops where participants played with optical effects, such as light reflection and refraction and materials such as foil, learning about light and material properties.
The artwork was curated by artist Envide Nefelibata who intervened by creating the ‘negative’ of the building through covering its sides with black wood panels and creating a ‘work-in-porgress’ performative space. The goal was to provoke the city with a performative and disappearing building in order to create questions about its importance; and then unveil and hand the building back to the city at the end of project.
A special thanks to LUCity partners, 4is Plataforma para a Inovação Social and personally to Marica Girardi, Envide Nefelibata, Joao Pedro Rosa, Tiago Castro, Pedro Santos, Frederico Manuel Rodrigues for the support.
All photos are by DS Stroytellers
Enjoy the video of the making off: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2338138989793951
Links about the Mercato: