SAMA Square Market: Accessible Community Spaces Made for the People

June 11, 2024

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By 

Elle Yap

The nature of public spaces continues to evolve. Beyond just looking attractive, they must serve multiple purposes to benefit the community effectively. We see those decisions at work at the SAMA Square Market and how welcoming it is to people of different stripes and backgrounds. 

SAMA Square Market is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. TKCA Architect developed the core idea, with Rien Tan functioning as the lead of the project. Different companies also collaborated with bringing the project to life, including landscape architects Praxcis Design and structural engineers VED Engineers. 

SAMA Square Market from above. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
SAMA Square Market from above. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.

The architect approached the marketplace as one that caters to locals, but tourists, too. It needed to maximize the space given to ensure the happiness of both audiences. How it was designed pushed it to be the core of the community and beyond. 

Private Commercial Spaces

SAMA Square Market is divided into three distinct portions. The Main Market Building, Open Street People Plaza, and Retail Village make up the composition of the place as a whole. 

The Main Market Building resembles a local palengke in the Philippines. It’s a spacious, open space under a sloping roof, with high ceilings and room for stalls. 

The spaciousness of the interior works as space for more temporary stores, but it also gives allowance to easily transport produce from the loading bay to the inside. Beyond its function as a marketplace, it also functions as a food hall for visitors. 

“The market’s thoughtful planning includes modular stall designs, dedicated service lanes, ample loading bays, and layouts that support physical and online commerce, setting new standards for cleanliness, organization, and accessibility,” the architects said about the project. 

SAMA Square Market's open-space area. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
SAMA Square Market’s open-space area. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
The walls and entrances of the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
The walls and entrances of the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Walkways for the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Walkways for the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Walkways for the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Walkways for the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.

For the Main Market, the roof’s construction grants the stalls natural lighting through translucent windows and skylights. Ceiling fans are also used to keep the air circulating. It brings down the power consumption, of course, but it also allows one to immerse themselves in the surroundings.

Thoughtful Public Spaces

The Retail Village permits stores to have a more permanent location that allows for personalization. TKCA Architect created rows of two-storey storefronts made specifically for more traditional mall outlets: clothes, dry goods, and branded items. 

The Main Market and Retail Village. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
The Main Market and Retail Village. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.

Public spaces need to be sustainable, not just in the materials that they use but also the resources necessary to keep them alive. The composition of the market as a whole that allows different types of businesses in the area ensures its long-term survival. 

These spaces were designed to be welcoming. Its design utilizes bright colors in the walls and rooftops. Lots of red, orange, blue, and green painted on the walls or the glass coverings of the buildings. 

The architects also used other methods to be welcoming: pocket gardens in the pathways of the Retail Village, dedicated service lanes, and accessibility for disabled individuals. It sends the message that anyone can and is allowed to enjoy the building’s facilities, bringing people together wherever they’re from. 

Entranceway to SAMA Square Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Entranceway to SAMA Square Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Roofs and garden area for the plaza. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Roofs and garden area for the plaza. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Greenery near the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Greenery near the Main Market. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Greenery in the Retail Village. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Greenery in the Retail Village. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Roofs and garden area for the plaza. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.
Roofs and garden area for the plaza. Photo by Heart Patrick Photography.

In crafting a welcoming environment, SAMA Square Market shows how commercial interests can also mesh well with the interests of the public. This marketplace recognizes that a people-first perspective on construction will attract more people to the area. How we learn to put these two interests together will define the livable futures of the next generation.

Related reading: The Charm of Open Air Markets

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