Most fish markets are dirty, exciting, and loud—a place of business, not of elegance. But Snøhetta challenges that stark, no-nonsense image with the completion of the Muttrah Fish Market, a new waterfront landmark and public space next to the Gulf of Oman. Created as a focal point for the community of Muttrah, this bustling new market is topped with a sinuous perforated canopy that elegantly evokes the curves in Arabic calligraphy.
Located at the heart of Muttrah on Oman’s largest harbor, the new 4,000-square-meter Muttrah Fish Market provides a meeting space where local fishermen and tourists can interact close to the city’s original fish market, built in 1960. This new tourism-oriented project catches the eye with a canopy that fans out like fishing nets and bears resemblance to a delicate skeleton bleached white by the sun. The curving canopy bunches together into a solid mass over the outdoor seating area on the second floor, but is otherwise retains its lattice shape for natural ventilation and playful movements of light and shadow. The complex canopy contrasts with the heavy concrete structure it shades below.
“The architectural concept is inspired by the playful qualities of light and shadow through the shape of a double radial wall defining the spine of the new fish market,” wrote Snøhetta. “Seen from afar, one can observe how the curved wall relates to the radial shape of the corniche and the wider bay area, interacting with the street by exposing the stairs from the roof terraces in the openings along the corniche. Referencing both the former waterfront and the continuation of the corniche, the fish market defines the boundaries of public space, interconnecting the city, the mountains, and the waterfront.”
The new space houses over 100 fish sellers and cutters in a brightly lit, lively marketplace that also offers a new space for vegetables and fruit stalls. The new facility also includes refrigeration, packaging, and storage spaces, as well as offices, coffee shops, and a rooftop restaurant.
Images © Firas Al Raisi, Luminosity Productions