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Market Place & City Dwelling

Part 1 Project 2009
Stephen Paradise
University of Portsmouth, UK
Located on the edge of Southampton’s historic medieval town, the site has become an important mediator between old and new building and urban typologies, and of old and new systems of commerce. The market community’s aim is to act as a positive contribution to Southampton’s retail experience by offering a more open environment, that is encouraging and even sustainable in its approach, whether its inhabitants need to or want to shop.

The program comprises a new markethall to replace the existing facilities within Southampton, and it reintroduces medium to high density housing to the centre of the city. This is supported by a community building that functions for both the market and the residents. Finally, a bridge is created to link the market community with a new shopping development. The project seeks to entice shoppers away from the hermit crab mentality of enclosed ‘mega malls’ by creating viable public space of varying scales and uses. An ‘urban’ and a ‘green square’ are the focal points to the public markethall and housing accommodation.

The markethall rejects the 20th century approach of the closed off ‘black box’ environment of the surrounding shopping centres, offering a more transparent space that visually and physically connects to the market square. Views of the town walls can be seen on all sides. In section, the market hall is conceived as an abstraction of the industrialised shed through its form and structure. In plan, it formally responds to the orthogonal geometry of the bargate and the medieval town, which aligns itself along several north to south axis that metaphorically connect the inland to the sea.

The housing / retail block is conceived as a number of stacked ‘containers’ expressing each unit as an individual element. Prefabricated production will be utilised to reduce unit costs creating affordable housing for both the citizens of Southampton and the market community. The ground floor consists of small boutiques that open out on both sides, connecting with the urban conditions of a green, high street and market square. This gesture allows people to permeate through the site in a longitudinal direction [east-west].

Stephen Paradise

For a number of years now the Degree course at Portsmouth has culminated in an exercise in Urban Design. This involves the design of buildings at a more comprehensive level, requiring the students to look at the relationship between buildings and public space.

Certainly this part of Southampton posed a particular challenge and Stephen rose to this very well.

The site sits as a buffer between the old town to the south, with its intimate scale of streets, and the large-scale shopping centre of West Quays to the north. It is partly defined by the remnants of the old city wall. The east-west relationship of the site was provocative: the city wall on the west boundary formed a vertical edge to what was once the quayside and is now a large car park. To the east more commerce and the challenges of traffic. So there was a strong, extant, historical context. By way of contemporary context we assumed that the scheme by Foreign Office Architects, which is to sit outside the western boundary of our site – was already there.

This year the focus of the design was marketplace. Students were allowed to examine this either as a building type or more ‘expansively’. Stephen did both, extending the mixed development brief to provide a series of spaces and buildings that were a magnet for visitors and a continual attraction for the inhabitants of Southampton. On one hand marketplace can embrace the shopping mall and on the other can be an expression of the essence of urban life.

What I think Stephens drawings demonstrate is a comprehensive attitude towards architecture as expressed through drawing. There is evidence of an understanding that strategic and detailed thought processes necessarily work together. Materiality and connectivity are shown side by side with urban scale and placemaking.


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