2018 - Reclaiming the Use of Fernando Távora’s Municipal Market of Santa Maria da Feira
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The town of Santa Maria da Feira, some 40 km south of Porto, is blessed with some interesting architectural relics. Its layered history is well demonstrated by such jewels as the Castro de Romariz of the 1st century AD, the 11th century Castle, the 16th century Convento dos Loios and a true 1950’s icon of Modernity the Mercado Municipal.
This simple market, designed by the architect Fernando Távora, is an elegant interaction of the traditional and the modern. It is emblematic for the mid century modernist search for the Core, a new interpretation of the classic Agora combining spontaneous and organised communal and individual life. Market and meeting place all in one. Here Távora has masterly done more with less. He uses the structural concrete roof-supporting elements together with the different heights of the site to define space and to create a civic sense of what Aldo van Eyck called “homecoming”. This place is one of these timeless architectural experiences that stick in your memory.
For various reasons it is crucial for this complex to be revitalised. As a real representative of every day civic life it belongs the icons of the 20th century Modern Movement.
It is an emblematic expression of the humanist goal of civic eminence. Besides it is crucial for the continuation of the historic layers that form the specific character
of Santa Maria da Feira. And last but not least the revitalisation of the market offers a welcome opportunity in a globalising world to present local produce for local
consumption in a civilised and sustainable way. One can only sincerely hope that this inspiring study by the students and staff of the School of Architecture of Minho University will stimulate the Municipality of Santa Maria da Feira to safeguard and revitalise this human gem of modernity for future generations to use, enjoy and