Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guatemala's Rich Public Places -- Bazares Navideños/Christmas Markets

Guatemala City's bazares navideños, or Christmas markets, are another example of how simple changes to public spaces can make them more sociable. As part of the Paseo de la Sexta project, a decision was made to move street vendors from Sixth Avenue (Avenida Sexta). Since street vendors are often not valued by authorities, I wondered -- Would they have a place where they could succeed and from which the broader community would benefit?

The design of the market and its location are very good. As in Paseo de la Sexta, simple and low-cost materials are well-used. The market is defined by banners and brightly-colored fabric suspended from scaffolding. The fabric makes some shade, can be seen from a distance, and becomes a "roof", defining the market space beneath it (see top photo and video,, of the market along 19th Street).

The market also straddles the city's new Transmetro bus station at Plaza Barrios (see bottom photo). Transmetro buses draw passengers because they run faster than traditional Guatemala City ones, in part because the stops are less frequent. This feature concentrates more passengers at fewer stops, giving the market the advantage of having a larger number of people in the vicinity
. The station is also attractive and has a physical presence, unlike typical bus stops, giving the market an added legitimacy.

The answer to my questions is "yes".

1 comment:

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