Covered market

Marcy l'Etoile / Rhône
Prix international d'architecture bois / Projet sélectionné parmi les Nominés français

Having been neglected for a very long time, covered markets are currently undergoing a revival and projects to renovate and repurpose them are now commonplace. A sign of the times, they represent the desire to create communal, shared places where the town’s residents can come together.

In terms of the types of programmes implemented, a former covered market can be transformed into a multi-purpose, flexible space that can be used for cultural, social, commercial, political and sports activities etc.

In Marcy-l’Etoile, a small town to the west of Lyon, the construction of a new covered market was part of a broader project headed up by the firm Urban Studio to requalify the public spaces in the town centre, around the Fleury Lancelin square. Built of “wood, metal and empty space” as the architects like to say, it unifies and structures the central square with a strong, yet gentle presence, giving it a new identity.

Ordering the space physically and symbolically

The Marcy-l’Etoile town centre is a territory still in flux, composed of an eclectic mix of buildings by different architects. The main public facilities are mixed in with small private houses and former farms. The church and town hall are the main point of reference, with a community hall and infant services centre including a creche and school along the west side. These buildings form the backdrop to the central stage that is the square. Opposite, the Weissach square offers interesting opportunities for landscaping and synergies in terms of the activities proposed.

In this context, the covered market plays a key role in ordering and stabilising the relationships between the different parts and projecting an image that is a point of reference, representative of a town centre. It forms a roof which occupies the space in a pleasant way, a covered square which reorganises the space, acting as a mediator between the different facilities. 

A simple shape

The hall is built on a square base measuring 21m by 21m. The choice of a square removes the issues concerning direction and aspect. It offers a universal aspect and optimal flexibility for all types of uses. 

The use of materials which have been left largely unworked and are mainly composed of locally-sourced wood, hark back to the medieval covered market. The spectacular wooden frame, left entirely visible, characterises the whole project and lends a sense of complexity and mystery to this simple form. This “nest” of light-coloured wood creates a serene atmosphere in a calm environment right in the heart of the town centre, and is extremely comfortable in terms of its thermal and acoustic performance. The structure stands on slim, black metal posts embedded around the periphery which free it of constraints and allow for a variety of layouts. The wooden frame is fitted with a hip roof in square form, with fine hips visible from neighbouring buildings. The dark, pine wood cladding echoes the benches installed in the redesigned square. The slight overhang created by the slats accentuates the protective presence of the covered volume.

A glass window in the centre provides overhead lighting and lets in the natural light. This is reinforced by the spotlights fitted to the underside of the roof and the posts.

With a complex structure

The roof’s framework structure consists of a weave of glue laminated (glulam) wood beams, with large bending radii so as to remain widely open. Each beam is composed of five 60 mm x 150 mm slats. They are then interconnected by a system of hangers (threaded rod) and fastened together between metal spacers. The beams provide support in both directions equally. The assembly rests on an edge beam sandwiching the square black metal posts.

In addition to their structural role, these posts also house technical features including rainwater downpipes, the electricity supply for the lighting and the control panels for the awnings fitted to three sides of the structure. The covered market is thereby protected from the wind, sun and changes in temperature whilst preserving the outward views.

From a construction perspective, the frame was built on the ground then mounted using lifting cranes and fitted to the posts. 

Prix international d'architecture bois / Projet sélectionné parmi les Nominés français

Programm: Communal hall

Area: Marcy-l’Etoile (69) – France
Client:  Marcy l’Etoile town council

Urban design: Urban Studio
Architects: Tectoniques Architectes
Quantity surveying, fluids and concrete structure: Tectoniques Ingénieurs
Wood Structure: Arborescence

Surface of the covered market: 458 m2
Cost: €362,500 excl. VAT

Photographer: Renaud Araud
(photos are free of fees)

Main contractors:

Civil engineering: EGCS
Wooden frame – Metal structure: LB
Air tightness: DAZY
Glazing – Awnings: ROLLET
Electricity: ECP


Solid timber frame, glulam Spruce from the Jura (labelled Bois de France)
Wooden decking: KEBONY
Powder-coated metal posts
Waterproofing: non-PVC SARNAFIL membrane
Vertical awning SOLOZIP II from GRIESSER and canvas awning SOLOSCEEN from FERRARI
Lighting ERCO
Spotlights KONA XS