Brave New City | Picking Up the Groceries

Under the right conditions, an outdoor public market can transform the busy heart of the city.

A public market is a crucial component of a city, past or future. At this node of person-to-person interaction, opportunities are created for exchange and connection, away from vehicle-centricity and automation. At a market, differences in ability, age, or gender are not limitations: a democratic space emerges. People from different social networks can mix, debate, and negotiate. We are all free to participate, and to contribute to the spectacle.

The local marketplace ensures a personal trade of goods in our globalized world of commerce and digital communication. It is based on human scale and proportion; its flexible, open nature invites both the everyday and the extraordinary in a way that cannot be duplicated at the scale of the generic shopping mall or the Internet. At the market, where the scent of local oranges blends with the aroma of foreign spices, people can feel frustrated, happy, crowded, or relaxed, but most importantly, they feel as one, steeped in a shared tradition.

At the center of our future city, this fundamentally civic space will exist as a void within the urban fabric, serving both as an intersection of major streets and as a home for the market when traffic is kept out and people are allowed in. Through simple design interventions, citizens can control this ephemeral, egalitarian transformation of space. It is in this moment that a truly human city is created.

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