Lab Project

New Guabuliga Market

The New Guabuliga Market is a design and implementation project that has been emerging through [A]FA's engagement with the community of Guabuliga in northern Ghana since 2011. Based on field research conducted in markets throughout Ghana, the project team designed an iconic, modular market structure that is aimed at attracting traders to the remote town and strengthening the socio-economic performance of the community. The design comprises a floorscape and roofscape that respond to programmatic, climatic and urban parameters, and includes an integrated water source, built-in furnishings, flexible display options, and a market shop for locally made products that evokes the form of the traditional grain silos in the region. [A]FA’s engagements with Guabuliga have manifested over the years through applied and artistic research, mappings, town-level planning, environmental and infrastructural projects, built architecture, and community involvement. Using this knowledge, the New Guabuliga Market was developed, not only as a piece of infrastructure, but also with visions of Guabuliga’s urban and commercial growth in mind. The market is located at one end of the Guabuliga Greenbelt (2012 - present), an implemented no-building zone that connects the town center to the adjacent riverbed, serving as an ecological and alternative model of town expansion. The market is also a response to new vocational training and commercial activities such as handicrafts and food hawkers that are becoming more established in the community.

The design of the New Guabuliga Market brings ideas for sustainable growth and flexibility to a market through modularity, responsive form, robust materiality, and innovative construction techniques. Cellular geometries for the floorscape and roofscape respond to urban situations and future expansion scenarios of the market. With its platform, roofs, shop, water source, and seating area, the project marks an iconic renewal of market life in Guabuliga and has led to an increase in trade activities, attracting traders from the region. Extension zones allow for the setting up of informal scenarios and include pylons that can be used by sellers for display or shade. By providing an attractive trade environment in this rural town, the market counteracts migration from rural to urban parts of Ghana. The structure was built with the help of local fishermen and professionals, relying on the proficiencies of project partners, from architectural design expertise to local masons and welders, (un)skilled laborers, and development partners, which are necessary for a complex project being undertaken within a complex context such as this one. The commission was not conceived as a design-build project, but rather as a way to engage diverse people and partners that fosters a local and regional network of experts. The construction has provided income-generating opportunities for people in the community itself, where unemployment during the off-farming seasons is high. By realizing ambitious geometries and construction techniques, the project has also pushed boundaries in the local construction environment.