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A Latent Paradise In the Belly of the City - Food Market in Southeast China
Harvard GSD M.Arch Thesis  2019
Advisors: Peter Rowe and Max Kuo
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading

Market as a type of architecture

The market is a place that brings people the experience of exuberance and the expectation of a feast. It doesn’t only feed the belly of the city, but also take the interior land of the city to grow, especially in this project. 

In retrospect of the development of market,we see market could be shaped in different forms. It could be street market, also known as bazaar. When the spatial definition of a market is periodical and temporary. It could also be a market building, with more permanent boundary. 

The prototype of today’s market was most likely to be formed in 19th century. A large shed that is composed of very simple structure elements:  the posts and the canopy. In my thesis,  the grocery market in Asia today, is usually a building made with the same tectonics. Most of time the way a market is built doesn’t have much difference from a primary hut or a temporary tent architecture as it is an simple and open structure. Sometimes if the market is more ephemeral, it engages withe form of the portable tent. The marriage of these two forms in market building can be seen as well.

Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading

Marketplace establishes a social culture and atmosphere of community in the constant interaction between vendors and customers, the ever-changing flow and commodities. 
Which you don’t see in supermarket or grocery stores, where everything is organized on still shelves and no communications is happening. Meanwhile, market in China gives an intermediate ground for the farmers to be in the urban regions.

Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading

Geography Context

The hilly topography and the tangled hydrogeology system are the two main features of Taizhou’s geological landscape.

As a typical second tier city in Zhejiang, the overall morphology of Taizhou matches with the type of Desakota in which “the urban and agricultural forms of land use and settlement coexist and are intensively intermingled”.

Taizhou City is composed with polycentric structure. The land between them and connect all the areas are villages.

The map on the right shows the Grocery Markets Spatial Distribution.

Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading


The market is nested inside a block enclosed by 7 buildings. The property right of the block is belong to the village community other than the state, thus the land inside the block is not regulated by the planning code. The Row housing built and owned by villagers, Work-unit fund raising apartments are built and owned by the workers of the village.

Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading

Study Model  |  Three Cores and Stretching Gesture


Site Model  | Market as Autonomous Infill in City


On the plan the market is divided into two elements: 

  1. open ground with matrix of stands covered by the tent canopy

  2. enclosed spaces that has circulation in it while  accommodates stalls, such as cooked food or aquatic products that requires more environment control, and works as supporting structure.


The Roof system of the market stretches out from the interior courtyard to the street, from beneath the ceiling of the existing building to the high ground of the market.


Study Model  |  Catenary Tent Roof Structure as Infill and Interconnection

The circulation for some of the residence is thus altered to the second floor. Because the first floor now is the store they rent out, it’s not necessary for them to go through first floor to get to their home.


The massing of the market would be barely visible from the street. But can be clear perceived whence you enter the block.


Market sometime  can play as a infill role cities which sustain it spatial autonomy. The street front could be strictly regulated by government. Stores fronts can be filled and closed while the store is still there, the signs can be unified by planning in a certain way.  But market inside a block is somehow immune to these political influences.


Study Model  |  Ambiguity of Massing Reading and Edge Conditions

SECTION 01.jpg
section 02.jpg

Section Drawing  |  Architecture in the Architecture

plan 01-01.jpg

Ground Floor  |  Versatile inside Specific

Contrapposto and Ficiality: The gesture of the architecture

The identity of a building does not only result from absolute sameness with others in its vicinity...Buildings do not sustain autonomy by divorcing themselves from “external constrains” but by using those limitations as framework for action.

In the history of art, figures that are torn between several alternative, equally attractive, choices are often depicted as experiencing an internal conflict that has an impact on their physical composition. In mannerist and baroque painting and sculpture, this type of composition is known as contrapposto …. analogous characteristic of  contrapposto is an opposition between the way he figure faces and reaches.
The drawing by Michelangelo of the Battle of Cascina that shows a single figure extending itself in four or five directions… a figure truly engaged in battle, torn, in different directions...

The aim of “Countrt-positioning” was to use variety to give the sense of movement, for nothing brings a work to life as much has movement.-- David Summers

Architecture Oriented Otherwise, David Leatherbarrow

Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading
Liu_Qinrong_M.Arch I_F19 Thesis Grading

The drawing by Michelangelo of the Battle of Cascina that shows a single figure extending itself in four or five directions.

The study of one figure by Michelangelo could be applied to a different setting without altering the body movement. Similarly, building can gain its autonomy by establishing its gesture engaging with the ambiance, while the site specific gesture could be a response for generic conditions.


Facilaity | Tectonics as Interface

This project has a very palpable feature that the complex of buildings and market has multiple layers of 'faces' or 'interfaces' confronting the different programs and different publicity in urban circumstance. The converge of the large span generic space and the dense living bar buildings is the first synthesis of faciality. 
 The exterior face of the building is mostly retained in the design is to respond to the possible policy regulation and political restriction on the street front/urban space. 

The interior faces of the buildings is autonomous, because they are not supposed to be curbed by the city but governed by the villagers residence community. In this way, we create the large scale hidden paradise in the back face of the city. With the continuous civic surface n the ground, when we enter the market or the courtyard embedded in this mega block, the distinct facility on different sides of the market defines the spatial experience for both the visitors and the residents. 


Close look | Monumentality to Intimacy

The roof landscape serves as one abstract monumental face, while the interior of the market has a face that tectonics and large span structure are clearly expressed. Some parts of the facades and roof on the edge are read as one continuous surface and embody the edge space a certain transition moment from its monumentality to it intimacy.

Interior View 2.jpg
Interior View 4._no outlinejpg.jpg

Rendering Perspective| Exterior and Interior



[1] … And Then There Was Shopping,  Rem Koolhaas, Harvard Shopping Guide, P131


[2] Landings and Crossings, David Leatherbarrow, Architecture oriented otherwise, Princeton Architectureal Press, P234.


Reference Image source:


[1] The Bazaar at Athens. Creator: Dodwell Edward. Date Created: 1800/1830. Physical Dimensions: w390 x h250 cm (complete)

[2] Trajan's Market, illustrations by O. Scarpell

[3] The Grand Bazaar Of Isfahan,

[4]France, 19th century. Paris, Les Halles market, 1835. Drawing by Max Berthelin

[5] Atlanta State Farmers’ Market,

[6] The Primitive Hut, Marc-Antoine Laugier, 1753

[7]Fan Ho , “Dancing Canopies”


[10] 99 Cents, Andreas Gursky

[11] Market history image source :


[12] geodata source: Taizhou City Planning Office



[15]  the Battle of Cascina, Michelangelo





Painting and sanding model bases: Huopu Zhang, Jiacheng Liu


Model laser-cutting and assembly: Cheng Zeng, Jingyuang Huang,  Yang Fei, Hua Tian.


Drawings and rendering help: Cheng Zeng

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