The New Guabuliga Market is the latest design and implementation project that has been growing from the [applied] Foreign Affairs lab’s engagement with the community of Guabuliga in northern Ghana since 2011. Based on (field) research done in 2018, the project team designed an iconic modular market structure that is aimed at attracting traders to the remote town and strengthening the socio-economic performance of the community. The design comprises a floorscape and roofscape that respond to programmatic, climatic, and urban parameters and includes an integrated water source, furniture, and display options to be appropriated, and a market shop for locally made products that evokes the form of the traditional grain silos in the region. Construction commenced in early 2019 and the market opened in August 2019. In February 2020, the market was extended with two zones adjacent to the floorscape for activities to extend beyond the formal structures as the market has attracted a growing number of people.
The [a]FA lab’s engagements with the community have manifested over the years through town- level planning, environmental and infrastructural projects, built architecture, and community involvement. With this knowledge, the project was developed not only as a piece of infrastructure but also with visions of Guabuliga’s urban and commercial growth in mind. The market is located at one end of the Guabuliga Greenbelt (2012 – ongoing), an implemented no-building zone that connects the town center to the adjacent riverbed, becoming a marker for a more sustainable and alternative model of town development. The market is also a reaction to new (adult) educational and commercial activities such as handcrafts and processed food productions that are fostered in the community.
The design of the New Guabuliga Market innovates by bringing ideas of growth and appropriation to a market through ambitious form, high quality, robust materiality, and novel construction techniques. The team opted for cellular geometries for the floorscape and roofscape that respond to urban situations and future expansions of the market. With its platform, roofs, shop, water source, and seating area, the project marks an iconic renewal of market life in Guabuliga and has led to an increase in trade activities, attracting traders from the region. Extension zones allow for the setting up of informal scenarios and include pylons that can be appropriated by sellers for display or shade. By providing an attractive trade environment in this rural town, the market counters migration from rural to urban parts of Ghana.
The New Guabuliga Market was built with local labor and professionals, relying on the proficiencies of project partners, from architectural design expertise to local masons and welders, (un)skilled laborers, women, and the networks of local architects and development partners that are needed for a sustainable and complex project such as this one. The project was not conceived as a design- build but rather as a way to engage diverse people and partners that foster a local and regional network of experts. The construction has provided income-generating opportunities for people in the community itself, for whom unemployment during the off-farming seasons is high. By realizing ambitious geometries and construction techniques, the project has also pushed boundaries in the local construction environment.