Bazaar

According to Wikipedia:

A bazaar (Persian: بازار, Turkish: pazar, Hindi: बाज़ार, Greek: παζάρι (pazari), Cypriot Greek: pantopoula[1]) is a permanent merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold.

Souq Sahat Al Finaa on a busy day

Bazaars are a traditional element in the lives of many people, particularly in countries of Arab background. The concept of bazaar is also strongly related to the souq, which is a market in an Arab city. A first glance at the bazaar shows a decidedly commercial nature and spatial organization, where similar activities tend to cluster: industrial workshops, eating areas, fabric tradesmen, all formed nuclei of activitiy, or actions, in which the visitor could orientate themselves even if they had never visited a particular bazaar before.

What makes a bazaar different than a shopping centre? Following Khansari and Yavari, there are at least 2 main differences:

1. In shopping centres, the manufacturing process is gone. It is just a place for trading. There is no connection to the process of making the finished items that are to be sold, and there is no chance of experiencing this process. From The Persian Bazaar: veiled space of desire, I extract:

“Bazaars were noisy; some, like the streets of metalworkers, were overwhelming with the sounds reverberating on walls and vaults, so noisy in fact that in recent times apprentices were moved into open spaces around bazaars for the loudest operations affecting metals. Noises do not appear in photographs, but dust does, and all bazaars were filled with particles of work, the sawdust of woodworkers or the threads of textiles, mixed with the dust of architecture and of endlessly shuffling feet. This dust is like a veil which covers the visitor or like the filter through which he reaches whatever he sought, the object of his desires. And to the dust must be added odors, the sweet smells of candies and pastries, the rich scents of endless perfumes, the rough smell of leather or of paint, the hard odors of working bodies making things or carrying them around.

Making things was not simply a technical activity now gone from shopping centers, it was a continuous sensory experience for the eyes, the nose, the ears, at times the taste buds and even touch. That experience could be exhilarating and attractive or repulsive and depressing. But, when compared to the aseptic quality of our shopping malls, it always was a profoundly human experience…”

Marrakech Souq

2. The other difference comes from architecture. As opposed to modern shopping centres made for easy digestion with shiny glass and polished floors (Rosengård Centrum?),

The architecture of the bazaar was an experience of discovery, it created a mystery in which both men and things played a strange role, only partly defined through their specific function of selling and making or of buying and waiting to be bought. By its skillful manipulation of light and of built surfaces, this architecture sought to attract and to fascinate. Together with the noises, the smells, and the visual festival of colorful items on display, it proclaimed the complexity of life and something of its illusory quality. Everything may be possible and available, but perhaps nothing is real.

In the bazaar, we can distinguish 3 elements:

– Action: it is the space, the bazaar presenting itself as a set of possibilities in the horizon.

– Reaction: it is what people do in the bazaar. It is worth mentioning that reactions to bazaars are highly personalized and temporary. Going to a bazaar can very well be a completely different experience if the visit takes place at a different time of the day or year. Again, it would appear that the action is merely to shop, but as anybody who has visited this kind of street markets know, there are a number of invisible actions too: smelling, seeing, thinking, navigating… and they all conform one single, yet multilayered architectural and sensorial landscape.

– Production: it is the experience of going to a bazaar. Among a myriad other things, “the souq was a place where people could come and talk, or sit down to tell stories.” It is not the same to walk across a bazaar when it is open and working, than when it is closed at night and it’s just a transit space. The production always has a psychological and emotional element, for it is an experience in itself. The lines of flight take a different meaning each time.

1. Action: what exists.
2. Reaction: the possibilities.
3. Production: the experience of being there; the lines of flight.

Según Wikipedia:

Un bazar (Persa: بازار‎, Hindi: बज़ार) es un mercado, muchas veces cubierto, típicamente encontrado en áreas de la cultura persa, hindú e islámica.

Los bazaares son un elemento tradicional en la vida de muchos, particularmente en Medio Oriente. El concepto del bazaar se relaciona estrechamente con el de souq, que es el mercado árabe. Un primer vistazo nos muestra un lugar cuya finalidad es comercial, y en la que las actividades similares se agrupan: talleres industriales, áreas de comer, textileras… todas forman núcleos o acciones, en las que el visitante se puede orientar incluso si visitan por primera vez determinado bazaar.

¿Qué distingue al bazaar del centro comercial? Siguiendo a Khansari and Yavari, existen al menos 2 diferencias:

1. En los centros comerciales, el proceso de manufactura ha desaparecido. Es un lugar para comerciar, no hay conexión con el proceso de fabricación de los bienes que se pretende comerciar, y no hay oportunidad de experimentar tal proceso. Del libro Persian Bazaar: veiled space of desire, extraigo:

“Los bazaares eran ruidosos; algunos, como las calles de los hojalateros, era abrumadores con sus sonidos reverberando en las paredes y bóvedas, tan ruidosos de hecho que en tiempos recientes los aprendices eran llevados a espacios abiertos alrededor de los bazaares para llevar a cabo las operaciones más ruidosas. Los ruidos no aparecen en las fotos, pero el polvo sí y los bazaares estaban llenos de partículas de polvo, aserrín o hebras de textiles, mezclados con el polvo de la arquitectura y de incontables pies marchantes. Este polvo es como un velo que cubre al visitante, o como un filtro a través del cuál se obtienen los objetos deseados. Y al polvo debemos añadir olores, sabores dulces de golosinas y postres, los ricos aromas de interminables perfumes, el árido olor del cuero o pintura, o los pesados olores de los cuerpos trabajando en la fabricación o transporte en los alrededores.

Fabricar cosas no es sólo una actividad técnica que ya ha abandonado los centros comerciales, es una experiencia sensorial contínua para la vista, el olfato, los oídos, y a veces las papilas gustativas e incluso el tacto. Esa experiencia puede ser de éxtasis, atractiva… o repulsiva y deprimente. Pero cuando se compara al aspecto ascéptico de los centros comerciales, era siempre una profunda experiencia humana…”

Un viaje en capas sensoriales.

2. La otra diferencia viene de la arquitectura. En oposición a los modernos centros comerciales, diseñados para su fácil digestión con vidrio traslúcido y pisos pulidos (Rosengård Centrum?),

La arquitectura del bazaar era una experiencia de descubrimiento, creaba un misterio en el que tanto el hombre como los objetos juegan un extraño papel, sólo definido parcialmente a través de su función específica de vender y fabricar, o comprar y esperar ser comprado. Gracias a su habilidosa manipulación de luces y espacio construido, esta arquitectura buscaba atraer y fascinar. Junto con los ruidos, olores y el festival visual de artículos coloridos en exhibición, proclamaba la complejidad de la vida y también algo de su calidad ilusoria. Todo puede ser posible, aunque tal vez nada es real.

En un bazaar podemos distinguir 3 elementos:

– Acción: es el espacio como tal, el bazaar se presenta como un juego de posibilidades en el horizonte.

– Reacción: es lo que hace la gente en el bazaar. Vale la pena mencionar que las reacciones en un bazaar son muy personales y temporales. Una visita al mismo bazaar a distinta hora o época del año puede ser completamente distinta. Parecería como si la reacción es únicamente comprar, pero el visitante sabe que hay una gran cantidad de acciones invisibles: oler, pensar, navegar… y todas ellas conforman una entidad arquitectónica y espacial con varias capas.

– Producción: es la experiencia de ir a un bazaar. Entre otras muchas cosas, “el souq era un lugar donde la gente podía venir y conversar, sentarse o contar historias”. No es lo mismo visitar un bazaar en horas hábiles, cuando está operando, que por la noche cuando sus negocios están cerrados y sólo es un sitio de paso. La producción siempre tiene un componente emocional y psicológico, pues es una experiencia en sí. Las líneas de vuelo toman un significado distinto cada vez.

Landscape of production

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5 Responses

  1. nice bazaar entry roberto. i suggest you look at the equivalent scandinavian martna, and also loppemarked and find out what the legal/architectural and social parameters are for these – can you propose some kind of hybrid bazaar? what could the youth in rosengård produce/exchange? storage? maintenance? responsibility? ownership? design???

  2. i really miss to see that you are being more direct about what kind of architecture and infrastructure you can introduce to stimulate some action in rosengård
    i feel like you try to stay at a distance and analyze and comment and research without diving into the world of possible solutions
    what can be provided? play around with different ideas/structures!
    how do you start something that allows for other things to happen?

  3. Reply to the first comment.

    I am familiar with the concept of “Tianguis”, which would be an open air market much in the fashion of the souq (presented in this post) or the loppemarked you suggest. One of the main aspects of a tianguis (or “mercado”, as it is commonly known in Central America) is that it basically operates parallel to the public space. What I mean is, except in some cases, mercados and ferias are still considered to be public space (they may or may not exist in built spaces, they can’t be closed at night, etc.).

    I think that in the case of Rosengård, one of the major obstacles to the temporality of use would be the weather, an outdoor market in winter would be a miserable experience, to put it somehow, so the idea of a loppemarked as a temporary event becomes important.

    Also, souqs / loppemarked / tianguis / etc. often benefit from a rotational “programme”. Some only operate on specific days or hours. Another possibility is that on Fridays the mercado only sells vegetables, cooked food or bootlegged music, for example.

    Hence, I think the idea of making a hybrid comes strongly attached to what happens with this space when it’s not in use. Can it become a part of the neighborhood landscape? Can the architectural elements be used for other purposes?

    What can people sell and barter in Rosengård?

    – There are a couple of colonial gardens where vegetables and herbs are grown. During harvest times, vegetables and seeds can be sold (as part of my course with Gisle in the fall, I visited one such “urban orchard” in Paris which operates successfully in a space about 1/5 the size of the colonial gardens of Rosengård).

    – Music is important for Rosengård’s youth (rap is particularly popular). This could be a chance for bootleggers and souvenir tradespeople.

    – In my personal experience, I bought a few items in Rosengård that are otherwise nearly impossible to find in your average Swedish store (anything from clothes, glassware, different types of bread and grain, etc.).

    Finally, how would it operate?

    So far the official policy towards Rosengård has been to renew the facades, paint the walls, clean the paths or renew the parks every few years. While I don’t criticize the wish to make the place look nice, I believe that the chances of any architectural intervention to succeed are higher when the people who will enjoy the benefits of it, are involved in the process, and not just given a kind of “finished gift”.

    As I pointed out in a previous post on this blog, called “Young and unemployed”, a joint initiative between the authorities and the residents could be a key issue. The authorities can act as economic mediators, opening microcredit lines (ideal for immigrants with no credit record in Sweden), while the residents can act as operators or co-owners. One of the advantages of such a scheme is that it creates a sense of attachment between people and their context, because it may very well be the way some people in the neighborhood make a living. Therefore, ownership could be transfered from the government to the operating residents in the span of some years. And with an unemployment rate sometimes double the standard for the rest of the city, I think offering the chance to work is a viable option.

    Design: that’s what I intend to do now!

  4. Reply to the second comment.

    I know! I have been spending too much time analyzing and theorizing, and now it’s time to get down to business.

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