OMA proposes to redevelop a well known traditional Italian market place, the Mercati Generali, into a modern civic and entertainment centre. In doing so OMA translates the contemporary shopping mall and supermarket phenomenon, both of which have come to threaten the very existence of a way of life that has defined Italian culture for centuries: street market shopping.
The project is located on the outskirts of Central Rome in a strategic position between Via Ostiense and the Garbatella district. Several of the buildings on the site date back to ancient Rome. Unfortunately, however, these structures have remained, for at least their recent history, disheveled and underutilized – solemn figments of past glories.
Traditional market-huts are to be transformed into free standing shops or "pavilions" while staggered and roof terraces produce a three dimensional topography, dramatising the unique sights and sounds of the site. The green streetscape and cafés inserted between the old structures can further add to a street atmosphere.
Transforming this section of Rome into a live performance area is carried out with commercial and cultural elements of a central cinema, capable of hosting international events, such as the Roman film festival, as well as a theatre for 3,000 people, art galleries, sport and recreational areas.
Five new main entrances, located alongside main arterial roadways, suggest a greater interaction between the different districts the market borders whilst aiding movement between the different programs within the complex.