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urban agora detroits new marketplace

andreas tsevis

michigan state university


urban agora concept

In Ancient Greece the Agora was much more than a marketplace, it was an area of social, economic and governmental interaction. All Agora’s from Athens to Sparta were designed in a similar fashion; an easily accessible open air marketplace. The outer edges were generally lined with governmental buildings as well as small shops. It was a hotspot for sales, purchases, trades and even leisure. its functionality of free movement and interaction made it the heart and soul of great cities such as Athens, Olympia and Sparta. With this in mind, the creation of a new urban marketplace, or agora evolved. page 1

urban agora underlying concept

the two underlying concepts which appear throughout the design are intended to unify the built environment with nature and the natural proccess. the first which appears is the fibonacci sequence. the fibonacci sequence apears everywhere in nature from branching patterns to the arrangement of seeds on a sunflower. therefore this sequence can be attributed to the growth of every living thing. the second which appears is the classical elements; earth, fire, water and wind. these elements have been considered since ancient times to be the essential parts and principles of which anything in nature consists. page 2

urban agora program Large & small scale public spaces Agora / marketplace Secondary plazas CafĂŠ spaces Outdoor rooms Strong transitions Overhead sequencing Storm water management Rain gardens Bioswales Green roofs Pedestrian friendliness Complete streets Ease of access Free movement Site amenities Seating Lighting

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urban agora site plan


5 a ot

k da

e* 1





o riz


key 1 2 3 4 5 *




a - urban marketplace b - undulating land plaza c - falling water plaza d - cool breeze plaza e - warming fire plaza f - transitional stoa



green roof rain gardens bioswales highly visible pedestrian walks complete streets details on sheet 2

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urban agora site detail

the central marketplace, or agora, is a community gathering space where residents, travelers and merchants alike can interact. at the center of the space lays a partial enclosure constructed of weathered steel beams - a twist on the stoa of ancient greece which are adorned with hanging ivy to provide shade during the summer months. within this enclosure local merchants. are encouraged to sell their products. page 5

urban agora site detail

The undulating land plaza takes its form from the classical element earth. cafe style seating is built right into the landforms where you can feast on fresh fruits and vegetables from the marketplace, enjoy the company of a friend or just take in the scenery. page 6

urban agora site detail

a quiet place to reflect - the falling water plaza uses the classical element of water to create a place of interest and identity at an intimate scale. the space is dressed with a soothing water wall and a shallow reflecting pool. visitors can kick back and relax to the sound of falling water, or forget the busy day watching koi swim between the lilies in the reflecting pool. page 7

urban agora site detail

A gentle breeze creates a symphony of rustling leaves. A series of planting boxes aligned to a Fibonacci sequenced grid provides visitors with ample seating at close and far distances. The thick canopy from the trees overhead creates a stunning portrait of shadows on the ground. There is never a lack of sights and sounds within the cool breeze plaza. page 8

urban agora site detail

This space takes on a whole new character after the sun sets. Warm red surface lighting and a curvilinear shape - taken from the Fibonacci spiral - gives visitors the sense of gathering around a warm hearth. page 9

urban agora site detail

The transitional spaces of the site are equally as important as the gathering spaces themselves. These spaces are crowned by beams spaced on the fibonacci sequence and are laced with hanging ivy. They are also well lit to provide safety and visibility. page 10

Urban Agora: Detroit's New Marketplace  

A modern twist on an ancient idea.

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