IMG_5946 Image 1: No separating walls between stalls.

Do you recall how the older traditional wet markets looks like? What one thought could be the most original typology might not have been so, that’s my thoughts and sentiments after I take a closer look at the Marine Parade Central wet market. What are the differences and similarities between this typology and those newer typologies mentioned in previous articles?

Built in 1976, Marine Parade Central wet market at block 84 is located in one of Singapore’s first residential estate being reclaimed, the Marine Parade estate. Since then till today, only very minor improvements have been made to it, other than those, it has been in its very original condition since day one, a one storey stand-alone market adjoined with a hawker centre. Nonetheless, it has been flourishing since then till now, even though it does not have the newest upgraded facilities like most wet markets in Singapore now.

When one first step in into Marine Parade Central wet market from the open space areas around the market, it feels slightly dark and cooling compared to the outside, on a weekday morning at 10 am. There are a few entrances to the wet market, one is by entering from the hawker centre side, passing by the toilets and then into the wet market, fronted by dry goods stalls and stalls selling clothes. Then you will be thrown into a cluttered space filled with noises and overwhelming smell, like any good wet market that is flourishing. The spaces between the stalls are rather narrow as compared to the upgraded markets, about 3-4 tiles apart only. What is so different is that there are no separating walls between the stalls. Different stall vendors shared a common working space. Which is relatively small and narrow, adding to the cramped and cluttered ambience of this traditional wet market. Some stalls probably are left vacant and the other vendors took over the space by putting icebox and treating that as both a storage and seating for rest. Some stalls’ counter top are elevated slightly compared to the rest, and in this case, there is a stepping platform for the customers to stand on and purchase the fresh produces. This eats a little into the space of the already narrow common walkway. Another significant difference is the material of the counter top, it is not the usual stainless steel countertops, what one sees is beige colored stone counter top, which comes in a few different designs depending on the wares being sold.


Image 2: Variation in counter top designs according to the wares sold.


Image 3: Vendor’s informal resting area.

Another entrance from the car park side to the wet market, one will notice the separating wall between the wet market and the hawker centre that stands at a low height of around 1.2m. The seating of the hawker centre is placed rather near to the separating wall. On the other side of this wall, it could be observed that there used to be a planned buffer zone area, however, informal storages and stalls occupy such spaces, and brings the wet market experience closer to the dinning experience. This brings some discomfort to the dining experience during the day but at the same time brings diners closer to the lively atmosphere of wet market.


Image 4: Informal stalls set up at planned buffer zone area.


Image 5: View of the above from the seating area separated by the dividing low wall on the hawker centre side.

However, similar to all wet markets, this market faces the problem of being a dead space after operation time, lack of storage areas and informal areas for vendors to interact. Nonetheless, it is one of those lively noisy traditional wet markets that are flourishing well in today’s modern context.


Images Credit: All images are taken by the author.