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Santa Caterina Market

On our tour BARCELONA & GOTHIC TO MODERN we explore the ideas and mindset of Enric Miralles, the genius of our lifetime. He and his firm, EMBT, designed one of the most brilliant works of architecture in the city: the renovation of the Santa Caterina Market. Today we want to explain some more details about this great project.

Santa Caterina market was built in 1848 and the restoration project sought to exploit the multifaceted nature of its surroundings and devise a solution where the commercial use of the building is complemented by the residential buildings and by the public spaces that criss-cross this part of the city.

The rehabilitation project of the municipal market of Santa Caterina is one of those works that are systematically being used as a reference for other projects.

© Alex Gaultier

The option of demolishing the buildings was rejected at the outset. The idea was that the market’s new look should still intrinsic to the history of the place. Thus, new structures were erected over old ones, mixed in and blended with them so that the whole thing appears as a conglomerate, a hybrid that is at once useful and contemporary yet reveals the building’s history. The roof has been clad with glazed porcelain tiles fired at low temperature.  These are white paste tiles that allowed us to work with brilliant, transparent glazes. This was particularly important if they were to produce the very crisp colours they had decided on when they conceived the project.

© Alex Gaultier

Description of the project by EMBT

A competition was opened to restore the Santa Caterina city market located in the old quarter of Barcelona in 1997. EMBT won the bid with a proposal that aimed at incorporating the extreme complexity of the setting itself by creating a commercial market complemented by a residential zone and public spaces that integrated all the activities of the neighborhood.

© Roland Halbe

The project maintains parts of the existing structure and the architects proposed a new and creative render of the area which respected the history and context of the site.

© Alex Gaultier

The proposal superimposes new architecture on old, mixes them, and comes up with a conglomerate, a hybrid that accentuates usefulness and is contemporary. The interior distribution of the market was reorganized; there are fewer stands but the access and service systems are rationalized; the surface area of public spaces gains ground and communicates with the Avinguda Francesc Cambó, an important transitional vein in the neighborhood also surrounded by a dense network of narrow streets.

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