A global question: a local experiment

One of the most interesting developments in the contemporary economy is the return of production to the city. While this phenomenon has happened successfully in some of the well-established megacities around the world it has not occurred in small cities like Torrelavega. This project presents the perfect opportunity to test some of these ideas into the highly neglected rural world.

The market is a very important piece of infrastructure from the 70s originally located in one of the city borders. Linked to the changes in the cattle sector, the building has lost its former role. It has slightly mutated to accommodate new demands; however the construction barely uses its huge potential and has lost some of its character with the introduction of some new activities. Along this programmatic issue, it has become an urban barrier because of recent developments of the town and its aggressive perimeter treatment.

The market building could become any interesting leisure or cultural infrastructure, however we believe the city must use this opportunity to retake some of its former past importance as the head of the rural Cantabria. The market was a symbol of the city´s glory and it should become the totem of its regeneration.

A permeable infrastructure: crossroads

As a response to these premises, our optimistic strategy acts at many different levels.

The urban approach aims to reconnect the market to the city. Modern infrastructures need to be more transparent and permeable in order to engage with the citizens. Our scheme opens up towards the city with two new covered streets that cross the premises and with a drastic reduction of the closed perimeter. This allows us to create a new public realm. The existing fence is also redesigned to be more transparent and provide a softer perception.

These interventions go far beyond the market´s outline: Avenida de la Constitución becomes a new tree-covered street mirroring the beautiful Avenida de España, honoring the deteriorated area, and passing through the building towards the South.

A new path through Manuel Barquín Park is prolonged generating a new monumental access square to the compound. The market finally has the dignified front facade that a large scale public infrastructure requires.

Another essential action is the new parking facility situated in the NE of the plot that benefits from the topography to generate 300 parking lots, satisfying both the needs of the compound and the city. This topographical infrastructure also accommodates the cleaning and disinfection centre required by the livestock programme.

The urban ideas are rigorously materialized through the architecture. The new streets and squares are completed with colonnades highlighting the entrances and new openable fences allowing the passages to go through the building and organizing the internal spaces. Furthermore, the facades are regularized as much as possible, omitting its extensions to extract its pure geometry. Part of the roof is substituted in order to get more light for the new tenants and solar panels and water collectors are implemented along the southern volumes to provide some of the essential energy for the complex. The arranged vegetation along the street and on the roof of the new structure helps to create a new pleasant atmosphere.

Programmatic symbiosis: an optimistic future

Some of these important decisions are linked to several programmatic pivotal changes. Current livestock activities are compacted as much as possible while respecting their fundamental working processes. The actual multipurpose area is reallocated in the annex hall, which at the moment only hosts the tremendously reduced Wednesday livestock fair that could be relocated in the main space. Both fire station and the driving facilities are placed outside the intervention area. The main proposal involves the introduction of an innovative co-working space in the NW sector of the main hall. A new space of production where different goods linked to this rich territory colonises part of the impressive main room. Cheese producers, meat processors, gin manufacturers, brew crafters, honey makers, fruit collectors, cake bakers, coffee roasters co-exist with the cattle breeders in the building. The space gives an answer to a generation of highly qualified people interested in the rural culture again. These new inhabitants will project their energy towards Torrelavega and the surroundings.

Simple flexible modules are distributed along the section. Shops in the ground floor activate the new arcades. Offices and workshops sit on top, providing the necessary premises to complete the economic chain. Laboratories, quality control testing facilities, showrooms and meeting areas will complement the main units which oscillate between 100 m2 and 900 m2.

A revision of the new urban-rural production technologies and how they may be reinserted in the urban fabric is a crucial field of consideration and research at the center of this scheme. The building could become an open forum for the exchange of knowledge, not necessarily limited to producers and ranchers, but open to the citizens, for rural know-how to become a more integral part of society.