The Market Building: Co-op Commercial & Retail Space

A one storey hip-roofed structure built at the back of a lot on the north side of the 200-block East Pender shows tell-tale signs of having been a market building. The parking lot in front may have functioned as a fore court for outdoor stalls in good-weather. Market buildings fronting squares, or urban rooms play key roles in supporting social functioning in the quartier.

Reverse view of the space in front of the market building. Note how the buildings on the opposite side of Pender Street contribute to the continuous enclosure of the urban room.

The goal of keeping gentrification in check in the Historic Quartiers presents the challenge of suppling low-rent storefront space for businesses that cater to low-income residents. The Charrette proposes developing Co-op Market buildings renting space at non-market rates.

Markets buildings accommodate stalls for fruit and vegetable vendors alongside kiosk spaces for start-up businesses, including butchers, bakers, fish sellers, candle makers, lunch counters and coffee bars.

Photo: Mercato San Lorenzo, Florence: Street Outside & Upper Level

In Florence, a two storey vaulted structure rents tables by the day on the upper level. Sellers receive a cash drawer that fits into slots under the tables when they rent their space at the market office. Outside the market, street stalls also change daily.

Market Building often pair with an urban room. The social spaces of Granville Island Market, for example, are as much a part of the draw for which the site is world renown as what’s on offer inside. In good weather market activity spills into the urban room; in bad weather, outdoor social activity finds refuge in the market building.

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© Lewis N. Villegas, Vancouver, January 2012.

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