Bringing the market 'back into' supermarket : creating a social hub for local communities : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
This design project addresses the contemporary supermarket chain, seeking to bring back to this typology the traditional sociality and dynamic qualities of the urban marketplace. In this sense to ‘bring back’ does not mean to restore time, but rather to provide the means for public engagement by establishing the supermarket as an active civic space.
By negotiating between the micro-levels of everyday life and the macro-levels of culture and civic society, I propose to transform the supermarket into a communal ‘event-space’ by formulating a ‘kit of parts’ that is applied to the national
supermarket chain New World – “the only local
supermarket nationwide” – thereby establishing it as a viable, productive social hub. Encouraging health and wellbeing benefits through the rituals of cooking, dining, learning, communing and consuming, this sociocultural connection to the commercial environment also reinforces health research studies, which advocate a community-based approach toward producing the best outcome for upward mobility and community revitalization.
The concept is developed through research into historical and contemporary models to a final proposal of a range of Communal Elements. These elements are adapted and applied to three site-specific locations around New Zealand within an urban, suburban and rural context. This new approach to land use, innovative partnerships, health planning and sensory-based design strategies instigates a radical revision of the role of the supermarket. The thesis proposes that this is not only fiscally viable but that it provides positive assets to communities and neighbourhoods as a global entity within a local reality.
The project investigates ways in which spatial design can reconstruct quotidian consumption and public space, revising amenity infrastructure through site-specific interventions that draw on commensality,
“the exchange of sensory memories and emotions, and of substances and objects incarnating remembrance and feeling” (Seremetakis, 1994, p.225).