If you've visited the Cycladic island of Santorini in Greece (and if you haven't yet you definitely should), you know that the village of Oia situated at the north-western tip of the island is the most idyllic spot to enjoy the sun setting over the Mediterranean. The town, a picturesque agglomeration of white-washed houses built on the rim of the island's volcanic caldera, can now boast about another typical Mediterranean treat, an open market. Designed by local practice Kapsimalis Architects as a modern-day agora where people gather to shop and socialize, the market sports a contemporary, clean-cut aesthetic inspired by the local architecture that organically integrates it into the local community.
Located at the centre of the town and forming a natural continuation of a pedestrian thoroughfare, the market occupies an abandoned plot, which, with the exception of an elongated vaulted building on one side, and a small memorial structure in the middle, was vacant. The architectural intervention consists of modest, geometrical white structures that irregularly frame the market's open space with niches, cut-outs and openings that accommodate the product displays. At the center of the concrete-paved plaza, a long wooden table, shaded by a mesh awning suspended above and complemented by a rectangular wooden pergola and a circular, rope-laced pavilion tucked on the sides, becomes the market's focal point around which a notional spiral path guides the shoppers and gives the market its name, Speira Santorini.
The market, which is operational during the six months of the tourist season, sells souvenirs, decorative objects, clothing, accessories, beachwear, and traditional products of Greek origin, in ten units hosted by the various new structures and the old vaulted building. The latter, along with the small, dome-crowned ruin that sits opposite the street entrance, have been left untouched, their weathered, decrepit aesthetic of peeling, discoloured plaster and crumbling stones in sharp juxtaposition with the smooth white plaster of the geometrical volumes and the polished surfaces of the wooden elements. Based on the same geometrical language, the market's architecture harmoniously blends into the surrounding building fabric, tied further together by the planted perimeter zone, whose local herbs and aromatics allude to the typical gardens of the village houses, and the spectacular views of the caldera, a priceless gift that makes any purchase something to remember.