Ancient marketplace takes top spot

Monday 17 Mar 2014

'Spectacular' covered market in Barcelona by b720 Fermin Vazquexz Arquitectos receives WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector title

The submissions to the 2013 WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector have actively engaged with the essence of what is possible in commercial building design. In a world where money so often does the talking, places of business not only need to have the ‘wow’ factor but also need to function as places where people can work.

Our distinguished jury panel was formed of: Martyn Evans, Creative Director at Cathedral Group; Dafydd Hughes, Partner at Cushman and Wakefield; Kent Jackson, Practice Leader at Skidmore, Owing and Merrill; Brendon Moss, Director at Qatari Diar; and Liz Peace (OBE), Chief Executive of the British Property Federation.  

It took several hours of animated discussions to select a shortlist and final winner, with the panel taking into account the functionality of commercial building design and considering how each finished product addressed the brief set down by the client. 

With the entries ranging from skyscraper offices to airports and university buildings to gyms and leisure centres, we really did explore all avenues off the commercial world.

This year’s winner is Encants Barcelona Market by b720 Fermin Vazquexz Arquitectos. Kent Jackson reasoned: "I thought the market was great from its impact to its surroundings. Integrating saving something that may have been potentially lost. There are subtleties about it in its craft, the mirrored ceiling reflecting the coloured clothes of people bouncing off the ceiling in the day light demure."

The breathtaking covered market had the jury enchanted by the way b720 responded to the brief and developed an ancient market space, innovating the space and changing the retail perspective. 'Real people, real life', as Liz Peace put it.

The Encants Barcelona Market dates back as far as the 14th century. During the design phase, b720 Fermin Vazquexz Arquitectos had to tackle the requirements laid down in the city's masterplan to redesign the wider region, transforming a dull traffic junction with undefined edges into a large public square.

The team also had to respond to the operational requirements for a new market in Barcelona which meant high standards of logistics, safety, accessibility and signage. The design had to satisfy the merchants who, in many cases, had worked there for generations and had grown accustomed to the original space.

The great roof structure - described by Martyn Evans as 'spectacular' - is suspended as a canopy and transforms the marketplace into a prominent landmark while protecting the shopkeepers and users from the sunlight. It resembles the life of the old ancient market but with a 21st century twist.

We would like to offer our heartiest congratulations to b720 Fermin Vazquez Arquitectos and our sincere thanks to all those that entered the 2013 WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector.

Katy Russell
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

Key Facts:

Commercial Offices

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