What advice can you give about my thesis? I’m studying architecture and my thesis is about Public Market.


When I did my research I focus on public market and supermarket & how I could redevelop the image of public market so that they can serve better and can successfully compete with supermarkets. But one of the prof in my uni told me its not architectural problem but an economic problem. Any thought?

May 15, 16 11:53 am

Find examples that back up your theory, this is more of a programming exercise but still is very much an architectural project. Get precedent studies to back up what you want to explore.  The layout of grocery stores into departments is mimicking to some extent traditional city markets,.

It sounds like you want to work out a design that can fulfill the function of a supermarket while offering the variety and customer experience of a farmers market, this is not very common but there are examples to look at.

happy hunting

Peter N

May 16, 16 10:05 am  · 

Since when can architecture not address issues of economics? I almost repeated what Peter said about layouts, so + to that. I'd also suggest not limiting yourself to the range of the property. Public/farmers markets have a different set of logistics and rules. As an example, my farmers market has a range of 100 miles, and includes wine (and alcohol?) so long as it produced within that range. Context also matters because adjacencies have the potential to set up other opportunities to program and articulate space. Find a local precedent as examine it.

good luck and be sure to sample goods as part of the research.

May 16, 16 10:22 am  · 
Sam Apoc

Coolest market that I have been to.  Kind of blurs the line between market and supermarket in a way.  The architecture gives it a sense of permanence that the pop-up style markets lack (with tents, etc.)  Maybe this contributes to its success?  It's definitely successful as a landmark as well. 

May 16, 16 10:58 am  · 

Atwater Market in Montreal.  Much closer than (to the US) than Barcelona and very similar, but without the exotic roof!

May 16, 16 11:19 am  · 

Thank you for all the comments, Sir.

I got confused when that professor told me that its an economic problem and I started questioning my own research strength. He bluntly told me that its a weak proposal because I cannot force people to shop in public market, if they can afford to shop in supermarket.

There's a point that I got carried away with people's opinion, that I start doubting my research and want to find another topic instead...

Do you think it has potential?

May 16, 16 6:20 pm  · 

Check out Seattle's Pike Place Market, fairly touristy but there is a new expansion getting built onto it that is pretty interesting. 

May 16, 16 6:24 pm  · 

 I cannot force people to shop in public market, if they can afford to shop in supermarket.

Couldn't you apply that conclusion to any building? Architecture should not be about forcing anyone to do anything. It's about encouraging. Don't force them to shop there, make a space so wonderful that people choose to go to your market over the boring old neighborhood Safeway.

I hope your professor is being deliberately provocative to push you, because if she or he actually believes that statement, I'm not sure what they're doing in Architecture.

May 16, 16 7:15 pm  · 
1  · 

Thank you for your comments @tduds!

I lived in a developing country where most people live in urban area, to be specific these people came from upper, middle and lower classes. 

In a city where I live, many establishments have been built like supermarkets, malls, etc., Those establishments pose a threat to the old public market that we have because, first, there's a huge decline of consumer going to the public market because supermarkets are clean and doesn't smell unpleasant odor. Second, because of its wide aisles and air-conditioned facilities. BUT, when I did my interviews, consumer still go to the public markets because they can do haggle with vendors which they can't do in supermarkets since it offers a fix priced and also in public market you get to have an social interaction with the people.

One more thing, in provinces here in my country, public markets are vibrant there because no supermarket nor other establishments presence in the vicinity area where public market build.

I was thinking to find a site, which is not a rural anymore but not yet an urban either. I want to design or redevelop their public market, addressing the issues mainly on spaces, water and waste, and make it a significant structure.

but the problem is, if I do that, I can't address the issue between public markets and supermarket... right? Any thoughts?

May 16, 16 10:00 pm  · 

I'm so sorry if I ask too much questions. My confusion starts when that professor told me its an economic problem. :/

i just want to hear others opinion and what direction should i go from here.

May 16, 16 10:15 pm  · 

Listen to truds. 

May 16, 16 10:40 pm  · 
I think it's also about asserting the dignity and value over an international chain.

Often shopping at an international store connotes status and privilege in the OPs context.

An amazing local market like the Enric Miralles market is a good precedent.
May 16, 16 11:13 pm  · 

Thank you no_form and Marc Miller.

I'm currently looking for a site for my thesis... solution for the rebirth of my public market is (a) to mix it with other programs (b) discover the site's potential by its regional specialty (c) seek sustainable solution that are in tune in time

Public markets have been obsolete for many reasons.

Reasons such as age and unsafe facilities, lack of parking spaces, environment, air circulation, problem with waste and water... These also contributed to why people go to supermarket instead.

I do have a site for rural and urban. I'm just being torn which one I'm going to use.

I do understand that there's a site criteria and justification in selecting a site... my solution (like regional specialty) is directing me to use the rural site. On the other hand, competition between public market and supermarket is pointing me to use the urban site instead.

I would really appreciate if anyone here write their own thoughts about it.

May 17, 16 11:12 pm  · 

look into farmer's markets in the US for an example of how affluent and middle class people will shop at what you call a 'public market' and even negotiate prices for fresh food if the environment and products target middle class people.

it's not solely an economic problem - make it suitable for the needs of middle-class people and they will use it too. it might mean it needs better climate control, clean air, good lighting, better facilities for cleaning, and parking or good transit access. actually this could be a very interesting project, entirely because it contradicts the assumptions of people like your professor who assume markets are only for poor people.

May 18, 16 2:24 am  · 

^What middle-class?

May 18, 16 2:36 am  · 

I would question the assumption that public markets are obsolete, as midlander is suggesting. That's a very nostalgic description and several example have been provided above that challenge that. I will add North Market in Columbus, the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, and Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul.

May 18, 16 9:44 am  · 


about the site, I think the urban site is more interesting if you want to study how to create an updated public market for a broader group of people. It also gives you some chance to think about how city dwellers value freshness and natural food compared to the rural populations who actually grow it. It also seems more necessary to provide good markets in a city... presumably in rural areas people already have access to fresh food.

May 18, 16 10:41 am  · 
Wood Guy

West Side Market in Cleveland, Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, and Pike Place in Seattle are all good examples of successful US "public" markets. Many people shop for food with price as a primary factor, but many of us put other factors much higher. 

May 18, 16 11:06 am  · 

Thanks Midlander!

I really want to use urban site. I just don't know how to find a good site criteria. I want to base on population and accessibility but I don't think it will going to point me into the right site for my thesis. I think its already very general since every establishment in the city is accessible especially the mall.

I also have a good spot for rural site due to the fact that it has potential. I could redevelop it into a tourist spot.

I'm really sorry if I write everything here but feel free to comment. I appreciate it. Thank you. 

May 18, 16 11:17 am  · 
Sam Apoc

Some more successful markets worth looking at:

May 18, 16 5:27 pm  · 

Snohetta just pitched a schematic design for a new market in Portland:

May 18, 16 5:43 pm  · 

It's really  hard. I'm confused right now. I don't know what to do anymore...

I feel like I'm going to disappoint my parents again...

I want to give up now.

May 18, 16 10:57 pm  · 

Well that took a turn.

May 19, 16 11:26 am  · 
Ickanela while thesis can be challenging it's not everything. Just do your best and move on.
May 19, 16 12:06 pm  · 
Wood Guy

Public markets can work in the right urban settings. They don't work in rural settings, at least not in the US. Vendors may live in rural areas, and congregate in a city to sell their wares, where there is a larger pool of potential customers.

Break your thesis project down into smaller pieces, to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Write down what you expect the result of each step to be. Once you have made a decision, don't look back. (It's way too easy to second guess yourself.) This is good training for professional practice. Don't worry about your parents, just focus on one thing at a time and do your best for you. Learn to trust your inner voice.

Your first step is to identify the problem: "redevelop the image of public market so that they can serve better and can successfully compete with supermarkets." Your advisor says it's an economic problem. Economics and architecture are intimately linked. What makes successful markets successful? What makes them fail? What has changed in supermarket design over the last 50+ years, and especially in the last 20 years? What do you think is wrong with supermarkets? Why do you think public markets should be promoted?

May 19, 16 1:40 pm  · 

Everyone has moments of self-doubt. Wood Guy has good advice, trust in the process.

May 19, 16 1:45 pm  · 

In my little burg the Market is open downtown on weekends when the farmers bring their produce to town. Vendors erect tents about a block from the main street. There are crafts people sometimes as well as plant nursery people and the occasional musical group, so it is much more than a supermarket experience. A lot of people go just to get out of the house and meet up with friends. There a couple of permanent cafes and coffee shops adjoining the market space with outdoor seating areas that do a lot of business when the market is in session.

You might look at designing a place that would be attractive even when the market is not is session and that could be used for other functions. Maybe a fabric structure or several set in a landscaped area?

The concept is somewhat related to the outdoor pre-football game party held at many colleges.

I think you have a wonderful, unique idea and should develop it.

May 19, 16 3:25 pm  · 

Thank you everyone! i do appreciate all your comments.

Just right now, I don't have any confidence to defend this topic anymore. I'm sorry if you think that I just waste your time...

To be honest, 2007 when I started studying Architecture. 2012 we got our temporary visa in another country. My family took the risk so we went and lived abroad. During those time, I have 25 units left in my university. My dad said I could finish it there.

When I got there, I was really happy. You know, living in another place. Exploring the unknown. It was surreal... but everything wasn't easy. Two months after I arrived, I immediately look for a job, but you know, looking for a job wasn't that easy too. I end up working in a fast food chain.  I saved money for my school since I don't want to ask money for my parents... I enrolled in Tafe while working.

but whenever you get comfortable in a situation where you're into, all of a sudden something will happen and turn your world upside down... thats exactly happened to us.

We're saving money and planning to apply for permanent residence but my dad got terminated in his job which means our visa got cancelled too and we're force to go back in our country.

Now, im back here in our country. back in university. I feel like time just passed me by without doing anything. Everyone that i know is living in their own dream job or life while compared to me, I'm still studying... I always feel like I'm not good as I was before.

I go back to my university because I really want to graduate even though people will just judge why im still studying. But right now, i really dont care.

Thats why I want to present a thesis thats a worth presenting... I want my parents to be proud of me. Although this thesis has potential, I can't present a thesis that I'm not proud of.

Thank you everyone for all your time. :)


I might change my thesis topic. I'm going to search now a good thesis topic...

May 21, 16 3:42 am  · 

Thanks a really helped me.

Dec 25, 17 2:34 pm  · 

Hello Ickanela! I bumped into your post since I'm doing my thesis on public markets! I got inspired to take on this topic because of Covid19. You see, public markets are usually characterized by poor sanitation standards, and since public markets are public spaces I wanted to challenge myself to develop an adaptive public space - the public market - to help my community during lockdowns and protocols. I find it funny because I also had an "upside-down" moment and since then my views on architecture and even in life, changed. 

I am far from done with my thesis, sometimes I even have my own second thoughts, but I'm taking it day-by-day one step at a time. I'm not the brightest haha

I hope you did well on whatever topic you end up with! But if you did end up the public market can I use for my Review of Related Literature? XD I'm desperately asking for advisors since its been so hard during this pandemic. Thank you and keep safe!

Oct 16, 20 11:02 am  · 

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