Mariana Pestana : Connecting design with community

23 : 01 : 2012 Pop-up : Mariana Pestana : Architecture

It is one thing for an architect to consider the existing surroundings when designing a new building and another to take into account the rituals of the local community.

But that is what Mariana Pestana did when designing a pop-up restaurant in Dalston’s Ridley Road Market. Chief architect at design collective The Decorators, Pestana and her team created the Ridley’s pop-up restaurant with the rituals of the traditional east end market in mind.

By conducting three months of research into the market’s daily social and economic rituals, Pestana was able to pinpoint ways in which her design could best connect with the local community. ‘We looked at the existing rituals and we tried to mirror them,’ she says.

Creating a living room
The first decision Pestana and her team made about the Ridley’s project was that it should be a restaurant. Realising the potential to create economic links with the community by buying and selling local produce, and building a living room space in which traders and market visitors could come together, a pop-up restaurant seemed the perfect solution. ‘When you are in a market, you buy or you sell,’ says Pestana. ‘So that’s what we did.’

Reflecting the local rhythm
Pestana identified a daily rhythm in the market that she used to inform the project. For her, it was important to have something that would reflect the daily life of the market. Again, a restaurant seemed the perfect fit. According to Pestana, the way it changes from day to night perfectly reflects the daily life of the market. ‘It was important to have something running during the day and to have a different life at night,’ she says. ‘We wanted to show visitors the way the market changes throughout the day.’

Focusing on trade
Another way that Pestana’s project reflected the rituals of the local community was through its focus on trade. By enabling market traders to exchange local produce for meals, the project was able to integrate itself with the market’s existing infrastructure. ‘It made sense to use trade,’ says Pestana. ‘So we thought: ‘Why don’t we give the project a function and let’s trade… This is the way we will get to know our community’.’

Top five take-outs

1. Understand your community. Pestana and her team researched Ridley Road Market for three months before making the final decisions about the project.

2. Reflect the daily life of your community. The Ridley’s pop-up restaurant was in synch with the daily rhythm of the market.

3. Take the local economy into account. Pestana recognised that trade was a great way to connect with the local market.

4. Offer the community something it lacks. Pestana realised that the market would benefit from a living room space.

5. Consider your community’s rituals. Ridley’s restaurant mirrored the market’s processes such as trading and socialising.

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