A project of the new vegetable market in Licata, realized by Francesco Graci with the collaboration of Make Hub for 3d printing parts for the model.

The project involves the expansion and refunctionalization of the market spaces, which will go from the current 11,000 square meters to 36,000 square meters of footprint.

The concept is forming two large light leafy roofing surfaces, which adapt, taking up the fluid curves of the river’s path, full of vitality that flows alongside the market.

The highest surface is a large shell covering on the side of the railway and open towards the river, it overlaps in part with a lower covering surface used as a garden terrace, also shaped by sinuous curves.

The market activity takes place on a large 19,000 square meter base, and is organized to host two different commercial categories, the wholesale market and the retail market.

The entrance of the wholesale market, is located on the second street Umberto, and takes place near the tail of the building, through large openings interspersed with walls in a straight line.

The entrance to the retail market instead takes place via two large staircases located on Via Giarretta, the part closest to the town, giving back the possibility of using the market safely and in a pleasant environment for citizens, who go directly to feet, coming from the city.ù

The market, simply organized, works in an optimal way since the same wholesale operators have the possibility of selling products for the retail market on the one hand and at the same time organizing the loading and unloading operations on the other side. 

In doing so, the two types of activity do not get in the way as they did before. In addition, 8,200 square meters were allocated to accommodate the entry and exit maneuvers and the loading and unloading of vehicles and heavy vehicles, significantly reducing the possibility of traffic jams on public roads.

On the upper floor, in the overlap space between the highest and the lowest surface, a shopping gallery is formed where it’s possible to place catering activities, tasting of typical products and more. The gallery is made up of glass walls that allow you to see out from the river side, enjoying the view of the city of the countryside and above all the suggestive view of the Salso river, which until today was an invisible element for the citizens, given the size of the concrete embankments. 

On the other hand, towards the inside one faces directly onto the market, thus giving the user the perception of industriousness of the place, having the possibility of seeing the loading of fresh fruit pallets.

Outside the gallery on the terrace, you find yourself in a panoramic roof garden directly related to the elements of the urban landscape and the countryside. Also visible are the bridges with the moving vehicles left and right of the spectator, the river with all the bio-diversity that inhabits it, the town of the city and the countryside in depth.

Across the river in a fallow area in the shape of a trapezoid, a series of glass houses are placed in an orderly manner in the direction of the slats of the city blocks, within which experimental cultivations and shared vegetable gardens will be operated. Also this last intervention enters into relationship with the main project of the fruit and vegetable market, bringing back a bit of the countryside in the city, but not definitively, since these are light and reversible structures.

This concept suggests a type of project that cannot be assimilated to a completed act, but to an open process that can be modified based on the actors involved, the changing needs and always ready for new hypotheses, according to the same elasticity that allows to understand the territory as a continuum, also made of contradictions and disharmonies. The project on this side frees itself from form, from a fixed design and becomes an opportunity to bring urban planning closer to listening to housing needs; a “proximity project”.

At the rear of the building, between the market and the railway, space is finally left for a linear park five hundred meters long and forty, for a total of 20,000 square meters. This wooded park with citrus trees is divided into two sections by a central path that can only be traveled on foot or by bicycle, inside there are three parking areas equipped with seats, sunscreens and water basins.

The path that the user walks during the visit of the building is as follows: the entrance, as already mentioned, takes place from the stairways of Via Giarretta, once landed on the platform you can proceed to retail purchases by entering directly into the market belly. Or you can choose to go up by escalators or elevators on the market floor that connect to the upper floor where there is a gallery with glass walls. Here you can walk the entire length of the building, inside or outside, on the panoramic garden terrace. At the end of the building which is the narrowest part, there is a stairway between walls, and the elevator that connects to the ground floor, from here you can access the linear park, or exit on Via Umberto Secondo to reach the complex Montecatini. Going through the tree-lined driveway starting from the tail of the park, you can linger in the rest areas provided with equipment, then continuing to the end you return to Via Giarretta.

The park can also be traveled in the opposite direction, so simply crossed by the citizens that I want to avoid the inconvenient walk of the Via Umberto Secondo where the river bank far exceeds the height of the visual field of man. Thus giving a pleasant and serene alternative to those who decide to walk to two nearby places in the city.

As a whole, this architecture, to be inserted in the urban context, presents elements that create transparency and lightness, conveying the idea of ​​movement. The larger casing is covered with Corten sheet metal, the large holes in the shape of leaves allow you to perceive and see the sky from the inside.

The structure that supports it is of metal reticular carpentry made to design, while the base is made of concrete with a polished quartz surface.

We can define the territory as a great landscape to inhabit within which buildings, biodiversity and production processes exist together.

Privileged area for this reflection are the meeting places, where agriculture is confronted with the city, with the resulting infrastructures and spaces and those referred to as “urban fringes”, border areas between the agricultural system and the urban one. The understanding of these systems in the territory requires a different kind of cognitive approach, capable of detaching itself from the conventional urban interpretation models of distinction between city and country. The landscape-territory hypothesis shows another field of research, integrating the study of biodiversity with that of the physical city space, social practices with themes of sustainable development of the territory.

In the case of my project, I tried to attribute new qualities to the market: that of being a more human market, and not merely a place of work and commerce, excluded from real city life. In fact, the conventional market has typical rhythms, which are characterized by pre-established opening and closing times that make it a hectic place during morning work operations, but for the rest of the day it becomes unlivable or rather inaccessible.

In this case, in addition to having proposed a reorganization of the logistic functions, I returned to the city a linear park and a raised gallery with a garden terrace, such as to be able to be visited beyond the opening hours of the market, in a place that restores dignity to the user and user.

Finally I conclude by taking up the concept of “monumentality” of architecture, defined by Zaha Hadid, he believes that architecture must be designed in such a way as to be “fluid”, and not necessarily its fragmentation must be sized by virtue of wise calculation, since the most sublime goal of architecture is to “infuse pleasure”.

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