some emergent markets

And now, to the plage!
July 28, 2010, 4:30 pm
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As we head in to our last day in Paris, it’s clearer than ever that we have more work to do. Documenting the markets was Step 1 of Some Emergent Markets, and we’re pleased that we’ve had the opportunity to wander Paris and Rome, searching out the loudest vendors, the most creative shading devices, and the biggest delivery trucks. The backlog of photos on our hard drives means that we still have plenty of information to sort through. Daphne’s notes for posts-to-come include headlines such as Metro Interactions, Graffiti, Trash Trees, and Smush, while you can expect Jie to follow up with Metro Canopy, Infrastructural Disturbances, and Market, M.D.

From the outset, we’ve been interested in markets as sites of emergence. While some of what we’ve seen has contradicted this idea, we’ve also come across evidence of reorganizations and adaptations occurring within standardized market structures. The emergent behaviors that we’ve observed happen across vastly different scales, ranging from the display of goods to the informal reach of the market. Emergence is evident not only in the arrangement of physical infrastructure, but in the ways that people interact in a space. The Campo dei Fiori-as-hotspot and the market vendor-call are related through their use of improvised theatrical performance–the passeggiata and the vendor-call are both opportunities to see-and-be-seen, and both rely on the fluctuating presence of a crowd.

We’re also thinking about future explorations that our documentation makes possible. It seems that physical models, grasshopper definitions, and large-format drawings are in the works; we hope that you’ll check in with us every now and then to see what we’re up to.



Market Soundtrack
July 26, 2010, 10:26 pm
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Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words…unless those words are, “Melon! 2 Euro/kilo! 2 Euro/kilo!” Click through the audio clips below to get a feel for the atmosphere at markets all around Paris. You’ll note that some are much noisier (more vibrant!) than others. If you listen closely, you can begin to tell which markets are full of gaps and lulls, when a market is empty and I’m able to walk quickly past vendors, and even when a market is crowded and I’m stuck by the tomato guy for a good 45 seconds.



Crimee Curial

Edgar Quinet

Gros LaFontaine


Popincourt–non-market day



Saint Charles

I’ll be annotating these clips over the next few days, so check back in for a more detailed analysis of the recordings.

Sainte Chapelle
July 24, 2010, 9:20 pm
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It’s Iconic
July 21, 2010, 12:38 pm
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So much of our research has been focused on the nitty-gritty of Parisian markets (scaffolding, electrical outlets, bus stops and Metro signs), that a visitor to this blog could be excused for thinking that the city is entirely bereft of beautiful buildings and monuments. It’s time to correct this impression! Several of Paris’s markets take place in the shadow of the city’s most famous icons.

The Saxe-Bretuil market might be the most famous example of a food-shopping/icon-watching correlation. As you can see, in plan, the market is perfectly in line with the Eiffel Tower.

This doesn’t entirely bear out in person, however, as you can see from the photo below. Treetops block a bit of the view, and the busy market (those trucks, again) makes it difficult to find a spot to stand and admire it all.

The Bastille market is wonderful, but also full of tourists walking around looking for something to, well, storm. The monument in the middle of the traffic circle serves as a focal point at the entrance to the market, though it becomes less important as you walk further into the rows of market stalls.

The big surprise in all of this has been the market at the Square d’Anvers. Located Montmartre, the tiny market is sandwiched between apartment blocks, which in plan don’t seem all that promising. But! Montmartre is hilly, which opens up entirely new, non boulevard-/axis-related viewshed possibilities. Sacre Coeur is just up the hill from the square, and the view of it from the market is just lovely.

Mind the Gap
July 21, 2010, 10:17 am
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The market structure here in Paris is remarkably linear. At markets like Belleville and Barb├Ęs, the space is so crowded that you can walk in a straight line for blocks before you find an opportunity to duck out into a different space.

On other occasions, we’ve come across markets with empty stalls. While the metal scaffolding is set up (thanks, city government!), an absent vendor creates a gap in the long stretch of produce-covered tables. Shoppers use these gaps as shortcuts for hopping from one row of stalls to another, and I’m starting to think of the empty stalls as potentially interesting field disturbances.

This gap opens up an interesting view across the market–it is so important to always be able to keep an eye on the cheese vendor.

Park it Right Here
July 18, 2010, 9:31 pm
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Some of the markets we’ve seen take place on lovely boulevards, with views, and benches, and plants, and fountains.

Others, however, take root over Valuable Parking Infrastructure. The Avenue Woodrow Wilson market displaces not benches, but parking spots, as it stretches past the Palais de Tokyo and other glamorous establishments.

A crosswalk (intended to help out market-goers, car-commuters, or intrepid architectural researchers, one wonders…) stretches into the market corridor:

Ignore the display cases full of organic cheese and look down at your feet. You’ll find market scaffolding delicately sidestepping painted parking guides:

At the end of the row of vendors, take a 360 spin to see the boulevard as both a market, and a parking lot:

Urban Forest, Part II
July 18, 2010, 8:59 pm
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After our first visit to the Maubert market, I wrote that I loved the relationship between trees and the market stall scaffolding. Having now had a few weeks to investigate this all a bit further, it’s clear to me that trees aren’t just a bit of fun punctuation within a field of market stalls–they’re an essential part of Parisian market infrastructure.

The tree canopy goes a long way in creating a sense of enclosure and protection for the market–turning a plaza into a room. Canopy height can vary quite a bit while still accomplishing this.

Trees that enter the field of market stalls break up continuous patterns, creating individual moments of interest and adaptation. For boulevard-style markets that can continue on for blocks and blocks, this can be particularly important.

In Rome, we saw that market-goers tend to stick to the shade; to encourage shopping, vendors resorted to covering the Campo dei Fiori in XXL-sized umbrellas. Here in Paris, trees provide a nice baseline dappled sunlight. As a result, awnings over Parisian market stalls have less sun-repelling work to do. See how small and translucent they are?

Finally, though we’d been putting together the pieces to this puzzle ourselves, it was a trip to the (otherwise mostly uninteresting) Bourse market that really confirmed our suspicion.