AGORA 2012: The Return to Traditional Marketplace
thesisposted on 23.05.2021, 14:40 by Winnie Lam Ho-Suen
Market forms such as shopping malls and department stores have been cloned endlessly in both rural and urban areas in many countries as a successful retail model. Despite the fairly homogeneous architectural expression and internalized (isolated) environment of new market forms (cut off from the city at large), the mass production of generic markets are seen favourably, since they are cost effective and offer the high dollar-per-square-footage that developers seek and that favours a global consumer economy. Therefore, the more traditional public markets that were once an expression the local life and culture are now being replacing by the “McDonaldized” (Rizter, 2006 page 123) marketplaces. They all have a similar architectural form, type and style that have little or no linkage to the locale and, in addition, are private zones. Since the 1970s, the intensity of construction of such generic market places has been slowly overriding the authentic identity of market architecture in many regions. In order to distinguish and express the unique architectural developments and the difference in local lifestyles of different regions, it is important to maintain local identity of building that houses “historically stable programs” (Leong, 2011, p. 138) such as local market. It is also crucial to keep the marketplace public in nature where people can socialize with greater freedom. This project intends to re- capture the local identity in a specific urban marketplace as a test of how contemporary design can maintain, revitalize and reinterpret the essence of the local architecture. The site is a typical residential- commercial neighbourhood known as Li-Nong in Shanghai. It is a row house neighbourhood built in 1924 in the heart of the city. The deterioration of buildings and limited access into the neighbourhood has contributed to the decline of businesses in the neighbourhood’s commercial strip. This project attempts to revitalize the historical laneway commercial neighbourhood and make it into a pedestrianized and inviting neighbourhood where locals can still have a shopping experience that is informed by the 1924 Shanghai-nese architecture.