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Metal makeover

By Lynn Stanley

Century-old market experiences revival

November 2011 - Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Barceloneta Market, Barcelona, Spain, one of the city's 100-year-old markets, has reclaimed its position as the social center of the neighborhood. The structure's glass face framed by undulating metal forms overlooks a large public square and now is home to street markets, shops and restaurants. The Barcelona Municipal Market Institute initiated the modernization project. Architect Josep Miˆs, MiAS Arquitectes, Barcelona led the effort to design and remodel the building.

The market's original structure was built in 1884. In 1939 bombing during the Spanish Civil War severely damaged the building. Although the roof was rebuilt, the market deteriorated and eventually began to lose business. The strategy to refurbish the market included attracting new business, recovering the existing structure and enlarging it to define new spaces for other uses.

Old meets new
Tasked with developing a design to meet these requirements, Miˆs created a concept that interpreted imagery from the surrounding neighborhood and incorporated functional elements to marry the existing structure effectively with the addition. "The project meant a chance to go back to the neighborhood in an interested manner," says Miˆs. "To survey the place with the object of identifying what would enable us to reveal its qualities and describe it accurately. We left the ground floor for the street markets and chose the roof to accommodate new spaces between the two structures. We thought about wind flows, clean blankets hanging from the balconies in Barceloneta and the Mediterranean waves waiting for us at the end of the urban grid. These images helped us to re-draw the market profile."

The existing building was dismantled and taken in sections to a foundry for repair. Made of cast-iron and joined with rivets, the structure had to be divided into small pieces before being transported through the narrow streets of the neighborhood. Once refurbished, the sections were returned to the site for reassembly. The new structure was made of hot-rolled steel and flat bar, welded and screwed to comply with technical regulations then moved in sections to the site by truck. "The old structure was recovered to reach its original shape," says Miˆs. "That meant the old and new structures could not be connected so as to avoid transmitting structural overloads to the original building."

A portion of the new profiles was curved in the workshop while others were cut with a laser to follow AutoCAD drawings. "Some of the profiles had a special conformation treatment to be curved initially without needing any extra procedure," says Miˆs. "Some profiles were shaped in the workshop using sophisticated fabrication processes."

Four hundred tons of steel
Thermal insulation creates a light covering over metal panels. A false ceiling used metal mesh for a reflective effect. Installation of 180 solar panels arranged in 18 rows of 10 on the roof help generate 40 percent of the market's power needs. Nearly 400 tons of laminated steel defines the building's skeleton. Zinc provided the finishing material for the roof. The modernization effort, which began in 2005, was completed in 2007. The project earned Miˆs the City of Barcelona Award the same year.

Today's the regular, geometric layout of the surrounding neighborhood contains the market's organic shape. The building's color retains the neutral shade of the material it's built with. "The reason for this was not to avoid having to choose a color, but rather to give the building itself the chance to decide its own color," says Miˆs. "There is another color found throughout the building and it is constantly changing: the color of people's clothes, of tomatoes, lettuce, eggs, fish and the sky." MM

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