Market halls as activators of public space: Barcelona's metropolitan food system
Document typeConference report
Rights accessOpen Access
Except where otherwise noted, content on this work is licensed under a Creative Commons license : Attribution 4.0 International
Barcelona is characterized by a unique food supply system based on 38 public market halls, 2,331 supermarkets, 1,997 food stores and 1,562 bakeries evenly dispersed in the urban fabric. The city is a model of what happens in the 35 municipalities that surround it and make up its metropolitan area, where another 52 markets catalyze food trade around them. As happened in many other European cities, market halls were open-air exchange spaces until they were covered as cities modernized, a process that ordered circulation in public space, extracting from it a relationship with food that had been inherent to urban condition for centuries. But while in the 60's many cities began to dismantle their public food system, Barcelona disregarded this trend and continued to erect market halls until tripling their number, reinforcing a multi-scale constellation dispersed throughout the metropolitan territory. The case becomes even more unique when looking at the metropolis, in which 30% of the market halls were built from 1976, the year of the elaboration of the General Metropolitan Plan in force since then. Today, patterns can be detected in which the proximity of a market hall triggers the use of nearby ground floors for commercial activities related to food and other daily programs, and intensifies the use of the public space around it. This article presents an ongoing investigation in which, on the one hand, the architecture of the ninety market halls is analyzed, with the hypothesis that each building type determines the surrounding urban space in different ways; and on the other hand, the urban fabric in which markets are inserted, the population density that they serve, and the variety of food trade in their proximity are observed and compared.
CitationGomez, E.; Fuertes, P. Market halls as activators of public space: Barcelona's metropolitan food system. A: International Seminar on Urban Form. 2021, p. 211-218. ISBN 9781914241161. DOI 10.17868/strath.00080404.
- LUB - Laboratori d'Urbanisme de Barcelona - Ponències/Comunicacions de congressos 
- HABITAR - Grupo de Investigación - Ponències/Comunicacions de congressos 
- Departament de Projectes Arquitectònics - Ponències/Comunicacions de congressos 
- Departament d'Urbanisme i Ordenació del Territori - Ponències/Comunicacions de congressos 
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