|Sketch of Via dei Giubbonari by Allan Jacobs|
There is a fascinating description of the Via dei Giubbonari, one of Rome's intimate market streets, in Allan Jacobs' Great Streets:
“Via dei Giubbonari has existed since ancient times. In the early morning the first sounds and activities are generated by the market at the Campo dei Fiori [at one end of the street]. Window shutters are opened and a few doors and window grates are opened at the bars. By midmorning the Via dei Giubbonari is crowded. Passing acquaintances see each other, stop, and talk for a few moments. Upper-floor shutters are likely to be open and a woman may appear, momentarily, to look down...
Later in the afternoon there is a second opening of stores and a much larger crowd. This is the late afternoon-early evening stroll. If you stand in one place long enough you may see the same people pass two or three times; shopping, to be sure, but also meeting friends, talking, and strolling. At the Campo dei Fiori people meet and talk in small groups. Some children are kicking a football. There are families. Much later, after the restaurants and bars on the street close, Via dei Giubbonari is still.” (20-34)
Baltimore is fortunate to have several public places that resonate with life on such a spiritually-gratifying level. Despite the pockets of street/market life throughout the city, too often it seems like many of the city's routine public activities occur behind closed doors, inside sealed special-event “facilities.”
CROSS STREET MARKET'S SHORTCOMINGS
Cross Street Market is, unfortunately, just such a sealed public place. The active interior milieu is wonderful, but even with the modest entrance renovations of recent years, the market building is still a drab, dreary, practically windowless shed that offers no tantalizing peeks into the interior festivities. I think Federal Hill deserves a better market, one that could engage the surrounding streetscape (which could be improved itself) and serve as a prominent focal point for the community.
What I find compelling about Jacobs' description of the Via dei Giubbonari is that each and every one of the streetscape traits he described could serve as inspiration for the design of almost any public building.
|Site plan of proposed market in existing context|
|Section of proposed market in improved Cross Street context|
|Section through proposed market's gallery|
|Elevation, section, and floorplans of proposed market|
An expanded market could accommodate additional market stalls to offer a wider range of merchandise and lure in a broader spectrum of people. Since I proposed dividing the market stalls with moveable partitions, portions of the second floor could also host various social activities - neighborhood meetings, temporary performances, festivals, clubs, and so on. The first floor could offer a mix of activities as well: market stalls, concession stalls (restaurants and bars), vending areas, and seating areas, among other activities.
|View of proposed market's interior|
What if Baltimore's arabber community had new, safe, clean places to stable horses and store delivery wagons? The proposed market offers several arabber stalls which, in addition to preserving and promoting the arabber culture in a prominent location, could encourage the market's merchants to improve their exposure/sales by wholesaling products to arabbers, who in turn could resell/deliver those products to surrounding neighborhoods.
|Section through typical headhouse|
I can't possibly cram all the proposed market's features into one blog post, so I invite readers to browse a full-size PDF of the proposal here. You can also read a more detailed description of the market on the proposal's Flickr webpage.