Thursday, January 24, 2013


by Bethânia Boaventura and Joaquim Oliveira

In search for manifestations of City Sharing in Seattle, we ventured into the city's farmer’s markets in University District and Ballard. In essence, markets are places fueled by human activity – they thrive because of the many levels of interaction they comprise. These two Seattle’s farmer’s markets were of particular interest to us because of their spatial and temporal particularities. The way they are able to bring powerful transformations in the dynamics of human activity in urban spaces is noteworthy, and our understanding is that such power is related to their temporal constraints: they only happen once a week.
Our photos were taken over the course of a weekend: University District on a Saturday morning, and Ballard on a Sunday morning. Later on, we returned in weekdays to take a comparison shot of each space in its “regular” configuration. Despite the fact that many farmers have booths in both markets, the particular way each one transforms its urban environment gives each of them its own identity.
University District Farmer’s Market takes place in a private parking lot (photo 02), which is emptied in order for it to happen. The most powerful and interesting feature in the transformation it brings to this space is an inversion: a fenced space, usually closed to the public, becomes a lively, open public space. The fence remains, but is then repurposed, used instead as a display support element for craft objects on sale (photo 03).
Ballard Farmer’s Market, in turn, is held on a public street in Old Ballard where commercial activity is the main use of the buildings nearby. So the transformation it generates is a spatial reconfiguration instead of an inversion of activity pattern: by closing the street to car access, it allows the strolling shoppers to take over the street space. The market booths are lined up in the middle, dividing the street in two walkable, narrow corridors (photo 06). The coexistence of permanent shops and temporary market booths configures a dynamic atmosphere (photo 07) that allows for a wider range of different activities when compared to University District Market.

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