Market Hall in Aarau, Switzerland by Miller & Maranta, 2002.
Miller & Maranta's Market Hall in Aarau, Switzerland is notable for its siting and its formal characteristics, particularly the rhythm of its wood construction. Featured in the wonderful little book Swiss Made, the Market Hall is influenced by its surroundings, yet is a unique counterpoint to the adjacent buildings, a light wood building sitting in stark contrast with the heavy limestone prevalent in the city.
Sited at an opening of streets in a dense section of Aarau, the building follows the adjacent building fronts, bending gradually on one long side and more noticeably on the other. Its location and inflection accommodate movement around the hall on both sides. When open on the short sides, the building allows free movement through itself as well as around.
The simple exterior of rectangular wood posts in a regular rhythm is split into a low and high section, the former opaque (or open when the doors are rolled to allow access) and the latter open. A flat roof, also wood, caps the building with a minimal profile. The greatest quality of the exterior comes as one moves past the building; what was opaque at an extreme angle becomes open more head-on. The tight spacing of supports creates an ever-changing face for the utilitarian structure that falls somewhere between market stand and warehouse.
The inside continues the outside rhythm through the roof structure. Only a single column and major beams breaks this rhythm and the otherwise open space. The simplicity is deceiving, as lights and sprinklers are tucked between the roof members, a consideration easier in concept than in practice. Here, the outside wall's separation of high and low makes the most sense, as the surrounding facades are framed between the low wall and roof, like looking through a window with large blinds. It puts them on display but also gives a fresh view of what could be considered the city's vernacular.