Born Market Surrounding Area: Urban Regeneration and Cultural Identity


Architects: vora (Pere Buil and Toni Riba)
Location: El Born Market, Barcelona
Surface area: 14,000 m2
Year: 2009-2013
Photography: Adrià Goula

The urbanization of the Mercat del Born surroundings is part of a regeneration strategy for a city area which has been at a standstill for many years due to the lack of use of the market and the inaccessibility to the Parc de la Ciutadella.

The market building, which contains a considerable section of the medieval city, dating back to 1714, has been re-opened as a cultural and historic centre. On an urban level, the reopening offers a large, covered public space, framed by a cohesive architectural plan: the so-called Fontserè porches.


The objective of the project is to respond to the potentials and necessities generated in the public space by the utilization of the building as a cultural centre. This answer is based on three strategies.


Connectivity and permeability

Traffic has been eliminated on carrer Comerç in front of the market by diverting it onto Passeig Picasso, creating a pedestrian area that is connected to the rest of the neighbourhood, up to the edge of the Parc de la Ciutadella.

Centrality and identity

An empty space has been generated around the building to accommodate its monumentality.

The paved surface provides a link to the site’s past history. Information derived from surveys and old maps has been implemented into the layout of the granite paving stones. The final result allows for two interpretations.

On the one hand, there is a reference to the distant past: the layout of the old streets and buildings has been defined according to archaeological findings and is translated into a composition based on sharp changes to the paving stones, which characterises and gives identity to the main space of Plaça Comercial.

On the other hand, there is a connection to a more recent past: the use of the market building offers a link to the cohesive character of the 19th-century Fontserè plan. The continuous granite paving distinguishes and relates the work to the collective imagination. A large part of the cobblestones have been extracted and reclaimed on site.



Flexibility and functionality

The project has been defined with a multiplicity of uses in mind. With the opening of the BornCC, the current use will be intensified and new uses will emerge. The open space and the platform-like character of the square are meant to foster this multiplicity.

The remaining elements that configure the urban design have been defined for their functionality. Trees, shade, and urban furniture are part of the current plan and facilitate the required flexibility.


Project team: Adrià Guardiet, Miquel Camps, Jordi Riba, Eva Cotman, Ondrej Fabian
Engineering: PCG arquitectura e ingeniería
Budget control: PCG arquitectura e ingeniería
Lighting design: Anoche
Landscaping design: Josep Selga
Archaeology: Isidre Pastor
Building coordination architects: vora (Toni Riba)
Building services coordination: PCG arquitectura e ingeniería (Federico Giacomelli)
Contractor: Copisa
Client: BIMSA (Barcelona d’Infraestructures Municipals)