The existing fish market has a conflict of functions. Like all other fish markets in the world, visitors come to try to get a sense of the behind the scenes activities, but this interrupts the daily business. In response, some markets have had to limit visitors. For this building, 3XN has physically separated the operational aspects from the recreational ones, while allowing visual connections between the two. In the new building, the ground floor hosts all the functions traditionally associated with fish markets – the landing and loading of fish, the wholesale market, and the auction hall.
The staircases that lead from the plaza to the upper ground level are a continuation of the surrounding landscape and act as an invitation for people to enter the market. The stairs also double as seating, creating a public space where people can enjoy their food and the view over the bay. The upper ground houses fresh seafood retailers, restaurants and cafés. The design focuses on maintaining a human scale and create a true market atmosphere – just like historic marketplaces or bazaars with a series of small stalls that are connected. The aim is to create an intimate market atmosphere.
A sweeping timber and aluminium roof floats over the building like a canopy; it ties all the various program elements together in one elegant move, while giving the building an iconic presence along the harbour. The wavy structure is a response to the underlying functions; it rises and falls to correspond with the program below. Beyond design, the roof has five primary efficiency and sustainability attributes: shading, daylighting, ventilation, collection of rainwater, and the potential production of solar energy. The roof’s triangular openings allow abundant natural light into the building, while their orientation shades the building from the harshest sun.
The market has been designed to be as permeable as possible to maximize natural ventilation and minimize the need for air conditioning. The design utilizes the roof’s geometry for potential energy production by incorporating photovoltaic cells, as well as rainwater collection and recycling. The new Sydney Fish Market aims to be more than a fish market but will be a
gathering place for Sydneysiders and visitors alike.