There is something about being lost; the anxiety of not being able to find familiarity, the confusion because of the loss of predictability, and also the anticipation of experiencing something different. Obscurity, when discussing space, is a bad word. So often within design, we find that being lost within space is a mistake, a condition that removes the efficiency and clarity of space.
But what if that space is filled with something that is worth being discovered? The Crossroads Market has been a part of Calgary life since its founding in 1978. It was not until it moved to the Canada Packers Building in 1999 that it cultivated into a year-round attraction for over a million people every year. This week MakeCalgary Talk took part in the chaos and crowds and went on our own junket through the maze of the Market.
The interior of the building bleeds out onto the asphalt of the front. You will see vendors selling dresses and scarves, produce, and flowers. A small alleyway binds the interior shops to the outdoor market. This is a moment of quiet in the hustle and bustle of crossroads. It is worth walking down this less taken route as murals dance along the exterior of the building. Through this you would come to the back entrance Outpost, a grand space adorned with every type of locally grown produce, embellished with an installation above created from reclaimed timber.
As we walked through the halls and corridors of the main building, our senses perked. Around every bend there was something new catching our eye; the food, the antiques, and the bargains. The lack of spatial order presented opportunity, you are not forced into a prescribed sense of movement, you wander, gander, and doddle at your own will. Circulation is based upon your pace. It is a journey that can take your entire morning or afternoon as way-finding in this market is built upon, “Oh whoops, I’ve been down this hall already.”
In utilizing the building as a market, much of the existing structure and walls are left intact. Shops line corridors created from the emptiness of warehouse space. Where the building decays and crumbles, its is celebrated and utilized with murals and shelves. The central food court houses the weekend congregation of foodies, treasure hunters, and minglers. Whether you crave sushi, burgers, or Mediterranean, this heart of the building has everything. To find it, we simply had to follow the smell.
We then wandered up the stairs. In the upper levels the labyrinth continues. Within a mix of corporate offices, a dance studio, and a theatre, you will find ghosts of the building’s past. Demolished brick walls hang from the ceiling, concrete slabs protrude from the walls.The floors themselves could tell stories as they twist and dip with every step. The unevenness of the entire construction gives way to a new kind of organization; in all the disarray you find order in volumes and program.
So, if you are looking for somewhere to get lost this long weekend, you do not have to look far. You never know what experiences you will find down the next hall, or the treasures that lie in its dead end. Getting lost in Crossroads Market is not a mistake, it is the intention.
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