Wednesday, May 30, 2012

San Anton Market

As a civil engineering (building science) major, I have learned to analyze the structural system, layout, and aesthetic qualities of buildings and other major forms of infrastructure. In Madrid, a city filled with hundreds of years of rich architectural history, there is plenty to see and study. Most of these are obvious, such as the various plazas (Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor), the Palace, the parks (Retiro, Parque del Oeste, Parque de la Montana), among others, and some are more subtle. On a recent walk around the city, I visited the Mercado San Anton, in the Chueca neighborhood. Unlike Mercado San Miguel outside Plaza Mayor, this one is divided into 3 floors, the first with market vendors, the second with tapas shops, and the third is a restaurant with a great terrace seating area overlooking the city. Although the food offered for sale within the market is enough to make it worth the visit, what I enjoyed the most was the building itself. It is an honest structure, made of steel and concrete, and brick. There are no true walls inside the market itself, featuring instead glass partitions. My favorite part is the incorporation of steel cables into the design, as a connection between the various floors and structural components. As you can see in the picture below, the lights for the first floor are suspended from a cable system installed from the third floor. Looking down through the center of the space, the cables form an interesting geometric pattern, and add dimension and visual interest to an otherwise empty space. While they are aesthetic, they are also true to the form and structure of the building and its components, and aren’t merely an embellishment. The best designs are honest, and the honesty and variety of the San Anton market make it one of my favorite places in Madrid.

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