Merging traditional techniques with modern design
Sitting on the Muttrah corniche, the new fish market in Oman’s capital city has become the centrepiece of the city and a focal point for the community. Muscat’s location on the coast of the Gulf of Oman means that the city has a long history of fishing and its relationship with the trade means that the market holds great importance for both the local people and tourists visiting the area.
The project to create the new fish market complex came from the Municipality of Oman’s desire to replace the existing 1960s building with more modern trading spaces. Designed by Snøhetta, BuroHappold provided multi disciplinary services for this landmark development.
The old market building suffered numerous issues caused by the intense heat often prevalent in the area, with the fisherman’s hauls often going off quickly in high temperatures. Our challenge was to deliver better refrigeration, preparation and packing facilities, along with modern trading spaces and a restaurant.
As well as providing better market spaces, the Municipality’s brief was to design a building of high quality architecture. We worked closely with the architects to devise a building that would meet both the aesthetic and practical requirements.
In order to overcome the issues with storing and preserving the fish, our team developed bespoke display units that have chilled water pumped through them. The design of the units and their cooling capacity slows the rate of melting of the ice on which the fish are placed, ensuring they are kept fresh for prospective buyers.
A key feature of the building is the striking dynamic canopy that stretches out across the public walkways outside the market. Providing much needed shading both outside and inside the space, the canopy’s flowing design is inspired by Arabic calligraphy. Our team utilised decorative steel columns, curved steel tubes and aluminium fins to create the canopy, achieving the complex geometry as well as architectural intent.
To ensure the optimal design for the canopy and to combat possible negative effects of the harsh environment, we worked with Snøhetta to develop a 3D computer model to determine the best form and translated it for structural analysis. A real, scale model allowed wind tunnel testing to determine the wind loads acting on the complex geometries of the fins. The data from the analyses was used to design standardised connections to reduce the cost of an otherwise very non-standard structure.
The market’s distinctive architecture features a curved wall on the northern spine. Constructed from rammed earth, the structure is both sustainable and reminiscent of the traditional vernacular architecture typical of the region. The shape of the building mirrors the curve of the corniche and wider bay area.
The new fishmarket is now both a working market, which sees the daily catch sold to local individuals and businesses, and a renowned tourist attraction. This new building provides a larger, modern and more visitor-friendly replacement to the original venue and includes restaurants and cafes. Our bespoke solutions have delivered a building that enables fishermen to sell their catches over a longer period with less waste, while also creating an important landmark for the city of Muscat.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply