Food shapes our cities. How we eat and where we shop is crucial to the health and resilience of people and the entire ecosystem. The food and climate crises and deepening social stratification should push us towards solutions that shorten supply chains and facilitate fair access to healthy and inexpensive food. Bazaars offering local agricultural products strengthen the city’s resilience and equal opportunities for healthy and low-cost food for all social groups, strengthening micro-entrepreneurship and neighbourly ties. Aleksandra Wasilkowska, whose studio is responsible for the redevelopment of Targ Blonie, has been exploring the concept of “shadow architecture”, i.e. informal street trade and bazaars, for over 15 years. The renovated open market is located in the commune of Blonie, a small town near Warsaw. The local community has been cultivating the tradition of fairs for centuries, and the market has been very popular and for years has provided access to cheap, good quality food sold directly by producers and farmers. The Commune of Blonie decided to revamp it to address poor sanitary standards and the lack of basic market infrastructure.
The redevelopment project consisted in creating a hybrid public space combining two social functions – a park and a bazaar. Multifunctional white roofs have been built, reflecting the sun rays and providing shelter from the rain. After the market is closed, the stepped merchant displays with wooden tops can be used as seats and a space for spontaneous meetings. Around the roof, commercial and service pavilions with large windows and facades covered with corrugated white sheet were installed. Toilets and an administrative pavilion were also built on the square, and in the heart of the market there is a bar connected with a playground for children and a community table. Around the roof, there is an access road enabling the delivery of products to pavilions and commercial places, as well as open stands for cars and itinerant trade in agricultural products. The smooth concrete surface of the square has been designed so as not to create curbs and allow free and safe movement around the market on foot, on a wheelchair, or on a skateboard.
The renaturalization of the marketplace and increased biodiversity are important features of the project. Naturalistic green islands with pine trees, multi-stem hornbeams, beeches, and alders were designed around the roofing and pavilions. Trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter to birds and insects will, upon reaching a certain height, offer extra shade for open-air trading posts. Clematis and wisteria vines, multi-species flower meadows, shrubs, and fruit trees have also been planted along the fence. Rainwater from the roof is retained in rain bowls, and its excess waters the plants and seeps into the soil. The geometry of the square has been shaped so that the maximum amount of rainwater flows into the areas of rain gardens, flower meadows, perennials, and shrubs.
Completing the whole design are various street furniture fixtures, such as white round information boards, bicycle racks, boulders, bird and insect houses, a community table, and seats. Under the characteristic organic roof, a playgarden with wood-carved animal-shaped rockers has been designed.
A park-bazaar hybrid, Targ Blonie improves the microclimate, strengthens micro-entrepreneurship, and gives residents access to locally produced food in the open air, strengthening the city’s resilience in times of the pandemic and food and climate crises.