The renovation of this southern French town’s historic market was completed around a year ago. The project involved a rebuild echoing the style of the old Baltard market, opened in the late nineteenth century, but offering a completely contemporary take on the original model. An update was required that would reflect the spirit and atmosphere of the place and its people.
The acclaimed French architect François Fontès wanted to develop a model not seen anywhere else, maintaining the spirit of this Mediterranean building and its maritime identity, moving away from the standard models previously used for markets. Hence he came up with the idea of covering the building’s passageways with something reminiscent of a giant fishing net, visible from a number of points around the city as the light glints off it – a tribute to the men of the sea.
The use of materials, colours and transparency combine to make the façade the building’s most expressive element. The structural form and interplay of light and shadow provided by the transparency of the main façade are interwoven into a net of steel: a metallic wave with a dynamic that reflects the undulating presence of the sea, the fishing nets and the trawls full of iridescent fish.
This net which forms the market roof is made using a Codina Metal mesh supported by a carefully designed three-dimensional structure. It was our Gaudí model that Fontès selected to provide the shape and appearance of netting on this architectural complex; its qualities of being highly malleable, lightweight and its resemblance to actual fishing nets were key in the choice of this model. The mesh is composed of a special stainless steel known for its superior resistance to weathering, sun, heavy rain and changes in temperature.
The new-look Sète Market is now able to promote its maritime identity, acting as a draw, not only for the city’s residents, but also for people from across the entire region, interested in visiting a contemporary building that remains anchored in the city’s ancient tradition.