A roadside vendor

Municipal Market, La Dalia (Mercado Municipal)

Situated at a rural crossroads, La Dalia (urban pop. 6,000, rural pop. 13,000) is a hub of commerce from the city (Matagalpa) to the countryside and vice-versa. This 650 square meter municipal market responds to a demand by the local merchants' association for a commercial distribution point capable of serving the constantly fluctuating population.

While the Hispano-American market in Nicaragua tended toward a spatial and formal continuity with its typically dense urban context, more recent market complexes have tended toward self-containment within a recognizably separate and often monumental building envelope. This complex, within a rapidly growing and indeterminate social, economic, and (newly) urban situation, references and combines elements from both traditions in addressing the specific needs and desires of the local population.

The site, split by a regional road and without significant surrounding spatial containment, suggested the ordering of the various functions of the market around a series of inward-looking courtyards. Spatial definition and separation here occur as a progression of zones from the horizontal expanse of the road through a series of vertical elements--volumes, walls, columns, and screens--demarcating first a semi-public inner court and next a semi-private refreshment area with alternately open and covered circulation spines passing alongside. Roofs are treated similarly as a series of planes, in this case horizontal, allowing for filtered illumination and, crucially, ventilation. A range of enclosure is thereby provided, from the open, light, and airy in the northern kitchen/eating block, also used as a waiting area for the bus stop, to the dense, congested, and tight in the inner “street” of the southern block.


Program: wet and dry stalls; kitchen and eating areas; public washrooms; bus waiting area

Client: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Beneficiary: Municipal Government of La Dalia, Nicaragua