It is one the first buildings built in Spain to regulate and house the sale of perishable products, until then in the hands of street vendors. It is a contemporary of the Encarnación market in Seville and the Puerto Real market, and previous to the markets that were built in Madrid, Barcelona and Santander after 1840. The building is a transition between the open square and what later would be covered market squares. With that massive inner structure that alienated the original architecture and hid its values, it was difficult to distinguish the two periods. After going up to the roof, all doubts were cleared upon seeing four splendid doors, one in each facade, imperceptible from the street level, in a building overturned to the interior.
There were two clearly differentiated architectures: a neoclassic one, finished in 1838, under the responsibility of Juan Daura. And another one barracks-like, signed by Juan Talavera and dated in 1929. The second one drowns the first and prevents the vision of the monument. At this point the decision was clear: to keep the perimeter and to demolish the centre. We must emphasize the lack of ventilation of the nave and the absence of natural light that permanently forces the use of artificial light, with the consequent calorific load for people and goods.
There were a series of forced premises. The old building would have to breathe and to be seen in its totality. The new one, opened, permeable and transparent, would count on a similar capacity as the demolished one. A luminous and ventilated interior would allow a long perspective and the perception of the colonnade and surrounding arches of access. The original building has passed through a rigorous process of restoration and the hidden structures and stone elements have been recovered.
Its inner peristyle recalls the archaic orders of the Paestum and Agrigento temples, recovered a few years earlier by John Nash in London, and later used by Scandinavians up to Asplund.
It maintains the idea of an open market, as conceived by its authors Benjumeda and Daura. The street enters the market and the market goes out to the street, thanks to the warm Cádiz weather.
The assignment emerged from a limited competition amongst ten architects, after a previous merit selection stage. It was called by the Ministry of Public Works, Department of Housing, Architecture and City Planning, Division of Architecture.
The market covers a surface bordered by Libertad square, Alcalá Galiano street and Libertad street, significantly rectangular. Its sides measure 106,75 m, 56,00 m, 106,73 m, and 55,78 m, and the total surface is 6,602.93 m2.
The new building will be blended in the old one, with the sufficient margins for a fluid dialogue between the two architectures. In a similar way as the covered gallery, an ample concrete porch will protect the outer doors. The outline of the plant is very simple.
The new inner and outer layout of the stands has two blocks on the smaller sides, where the communication cores with the cellar are housed. It must be mentioned that the duplicity of several spaces makes shopping more convenient, avoiding long walks to the customers. On top of the ground floor level there are two open mezzanines for offices, cafeteria, meeting room and archives.
A series of thin white concrete screens separate the stands and support the 3,30 m. roof projection. Beyond the roof projection, the screens have 60 by 30 cm pillars of the same type of concrete, which support 130 by 30 m girders that support the roof slab.
The structure on top of the awning is covered with slats of extra clear glass with shading serigraphy, at a fixed angle of 45º. Each unit measures approximately 180 by 30 cm and it is mounted on a tubular metallic stainless steel substructure of AISI-316 quality. We chose a glass solution for its transparency, which offers a view of the historical building, while it gives lightness to the new one and facilitates a permanent ventilation of the interior.
White concrete and glass, with a studied design of the stands according to necessities of the client, coexist perfectly with the clear stone that covers the totality of the old building, including columns, until today hidden by layers of plaster and painting.