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Market Place

Part 1 Project 2003
Tessa Baird
Farhana Mohammed Isa
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
The market place is on the site of the fire that destroyed a substantial block of Edinburgh’s old town. The multi-level nature of the city is exposed and the potential for new linking routes across the site is opened. This is a prime commercial site, central and accessible. It both faces the busy shopping street on South Bridge, and descends to the clubbers’ seedy world of the Cowgate that runs beneath it. The market place, like commerce, is at a junction between conditions: global and local, virtual and real, revealing and concealing.

Initially a developmental methodology was investigated through multi-media techniques (such as animation) meeting the narratives of commerce and site. Conceptions of the market that differ from the standardised experience of contemporary malls were played with, such as the souk and the arcade of the flaneur. Issues relating to the nature of the commodity, appeal and disposability proposed specific places of exchange within the market landscape. Edinburgh’s history of markets in the narrow closes of the old town also informed the design of the market as such an inhabited close: a route of events.

The second stage of the project was to re-interpret the original proposition through detailed study of technology and construction. The experiences, and functions of the first design provided a template for ‘conceptual realisation’. Three conditions of the occupation of the market were determined: walkways, kiosks, cavern furniture. These elements and the way they meet and intersect within the space then provided areas for focused design.

Tessa Baird
Farhana Mohammed Isa

Tessa Baird's project explores virtually and materially, the relation between 'architecture' and 'exchange'.

In the complex of human relations that the city helps to direct, transactionis the principal mode of interaction. Transaction occurs socially,culturally and economically, but in all ways is a form of communication and exchange. The process of exchange has primordial roots in the notions of gifting and sacrifice. The gift seems to suggest a giving without return. However, on closer inspection one can see that when allied with the notion of sacrifice a return might be expected, even if it is only the favour the Gods may bestow upon the giver. It seems there are bonds, weak and strong,
but nonetheless bonds, between ritual value, intrinsic value, commodity value, use value and the first pleasures of fetish. Never is fetish more evident than when we ritualise, wrap and present our gifts.

The market is a very early spatial system for promoting and coordinating exchange. The history of the market is a history of situations for intrigue and sensuousness. By designing a market that intervenes in the conditions occasioned by the fire in Edinburgh's Old Town, between South Bridge and Cowgate, not only will there be an increased potential for the exchange of goods, but also for many other forms of urban transaction. The role of architecture in this project is clear. It is to be, virtually and materially, an "architecture of exchange".


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