A glorious Move

A glorious Move

Mercat Encants

For years, the municipality of Barcelona was facing a small dilemma: the Glories square is a central place of the city,

but, as such, was lacking in splendour. The municipality wanted to change this. But right at Glories square, there was also already a certain flee market by the name of name Els Encants, occupying 17.000 m² of the square, and which was, although it had been there since 1929, of a rather improvised nature. Nevertheless, it was much-loved among the people of Barcelona and had even become the most profitable market of the city. Hence, it seemed unthinkable to remove Els Encants, even more since the merchants had strongly and effectively resisted any such measure. But how to make the Glories square glorious and, at the same time, preserve the shabby but beloved flee market? B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos knew a solution.


The development of the project for the renovation of the square was a balancing act. It was clear that Els Encants could not go on the way it had before, but both the client and the sceptic merchants had to be convinced with a solution. Hence, meetings and workshops with representatives of municipality and merchants became the basis of the design process. In the end, everyone agreed to five cornerstones: 1. the soul of the market should be preserved. 2. its role in Barcelona's civic life should be dignified. 3. it should be a large public space as opposed to a “commercial building”. 4. it should be provided with a strong visual identity, and should 5. contribute to formalising the future Glories square.

Move into Compression

The first result was to move the market within the Glories square. The amazing thing about that: with 8.000 m², the new site would be less than half the size of the former area. As a consequence, the architects had to create several levels for the market. Since they rejected a building-like model with floors, they made use of the slope of the surrounding streets and designed a structure with an almost triangular outline, whose levels would merge into each other like broad ramps in a spiralling manner. A suspended canopy, consisting of several staggered triangles made from polished stainless steel, spans the market at a height of 25 metres and transforms it – clearly visible from afar – into a landmark. It protects the merchants to a considerable extent from sun and rain, without spoiling the open-air character of the structure.

Mobile cabins and cabinets made from lightweight metal create a certain order within the chaos of goods. Beside this new improvement, the market also possesses two underground levels, among which the first serves the logistic needs of the merchants, for example, in the form of storage areas. The second level, however, provides a public car park.


The new Encants market has not only already doubled the number of its visitors, but also broadened the different types of people visiting, and has even become a tourist destination by now. Rating: successful.

Project details


Completion: 2013


Gross floor area: 35.440 m²


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