As part of Barcelona’s focused push for innovative architecture and design, the site covers more than 33,000 m2 and hosts 283 businesses spread across a variety of platforms and walkways. Its central area, however, remains dedicated to the market’s main and most famous activity: bustling auctions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings where dealers and laypeople alike fight over old objects and artefacts as well as rare pieces of art and technology. Yet beyond this dynamic schedule, Els Encants also boast a changing agenda of events and performances that enliven this experimental structure.

A structure that proves to be equally functional and original: Strictly speaking, it might not be a ‘building’ at all due to its lack of walls, but nobody seems to be missing such confinements. Instead, our attention immediately wanders all the way up, to Els Encants’ stunning roof. Here, sculptural shapes and strategic light inlets define the series of black and reflective metal triangles. Developed under the aegis of Spanish architect Fermín Vázquez of b720, one of the biggest architectural studios in the country, the roof offers far more than simple shelter from rain and sun. Instead, the architects opted for a completely clear and unencumbered space that makes the market and associated activities an integral part of the city. Now, the new Encants construction ennobles its commercial tradition and provides visitors with a welcome, novel take on everyday shopping and a socially and economically productive use of revolutionary design.

Encants in Barcelona, photo: lamono magazine
Encants in Barcelona, photo: lamono magazine

Also known as Fira de Bellcaire, the new market is a great example of progressive recycling and the city’s promotion of key drivers and traditions, encouraging them to evolve on their own or in conjunction with other fields. Auctions and merchants have boosted the market’s relevance, visual impact and overall liveliness. Old and second-hand furniture, antiques, rare books and CDs, vintage clothing, cool homewares and used electrical appliances are just some examples of the rich treasures on offer around the folded ramps connecting the many levels of this recently renovated flea market. Together with some new offices, a multi-purpose room and pit stops for thirsty or hungry souls, the small-scale commercial revival creates an unusual environment where old meets new and history meets creativity.

Text: Bea Salas (lamono magazine)
Pictures: Maud Sophie Andrieux (lamono magazine)

Header image: lamono magazine