Britomart Farmers Market project (2008)
This project explores the notion of the ‘authentic’ for an urban farmers market in Auckland. The site in 2008 was pre-development Britomart with the site utilized temporarily as an open air car park with a farmers market springing up every Saturday morning. It demonstrates the temporal dimension of urban public space and how its sense of place evolves over time.
|Streetview image from 2009 - one of the perks of Google Streetview not updating Auckland for 4+ years. Of course, now the site has become the Country Club, an airy bar full of cigarette smoke and high end consumers.|
The crux of the scheme is finding an ‘authentic’ for urban Auckland instead of transplanting the character of a historic or geographically displaced market typology. The scheme is situated in the vacant lot on the southwestern corner of Galway and Gore Street in the Britomart Precinct. The farmers market is designed to bring people in via an ‘exhibitionary pathway’, utilized in retail and museum design to slow down the pace of the viewer. The design worked with the imprinted history of the site, specifically the imprint left by a demolished building on an adjacent building. By bringing market-goers up via an escalator and allowing them to cross the length of the building, the imprint of Auckland’s past is put on display and acknowledged alongside a freely adaptable market of current day wares and produce. In this way, the architecture brings together past and present whilst working for a future condition that Auckland can call its own.
This Farmers’ Market project challenges this notion of bringing an authentic quality from elsewhere into an urban context and character. The scheme was designed in 2008 and the site has changed dramatically by the time of writing in 2013. Some things last, however. The City Farmers’ Market that the project drew inspiration and created critique of still exists by popular demand. As in 2008, the website still states that it is an ‘authentic inner-city farmers’ market at the heart of Britomart in Auckland’s CBD’ – an oxymoronic reading between ‘authentic’ and ‘inner city’ as the source of this authenticity is uncertain. In 2008, the market charter had a requirement that stalls provide a piece of hessian sacking as a table cloth in an effort to create a faux ‘authentic’ aesthetic – this has now disappeared from the charter. Although it may help bring cohesiveness to the collection of stalls, there is the problem whereby striving for a character which is not authentic to Auckland to the heart of the Auckland Central Business District denies Auckland from ever building up its own farmers’ market character. Other requirements include using wooden crates and baskets to exhibit produce and limiting the use of plastic.
Aesthetics aside, material is affected and relevant to the architectural expression of this urban space and public place. On one side, Britomart station’s glass louvre extension to the heritage post office building sees the 20th century engage the historic character of Auckland. On the other side, the high end fashion shops and bars are clad in black metallic mesh and other contemporary materials. The controlled manner of conducting the City Farmer’s market is disjointed with the development of Britomart.
What are your experiences with this site and how it has evolved over the years?