In this era, with a culture of online shopping and social media marketing, consumption is only about physical goods. The intake of captivating visual and social experiences of shopping and marketing is becoming extinct in markets. The traditional character of temporary, public, and open image of bazaars with narrow alleys and shopkeepers yelling from both sides from shops or kiosks full of life and activities as seen in Ravivari markets of Ahmedabad symbolize a local city character of shopping. Each market is an extraordinary battle of commerce, where thousands of exchanges and conversations whir in an ad-hoc setting. Hence, amalgamating different urban elements with market spaces creates such an experience of uniqueness, preserving the market essence. 

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Ravivari (Sunday) Market, Ahmedabad_©talesalongtheway.com

The market has long been considered one of the commercial centers that determine economic destiny. Markets are directly associated with people’s daily lives and are a critical economic and social attraction element. The traditional bazaar’s role is clearly defined in the city and community introducing itself in a broader urban context through its values. Covered bazaars, malls, and market typologies with a long history and old, ancient constructs have focused on establishing economic and social activities as seen in the Bazaar of Istanbul and Isfahan. In this architecture, remarkable attempts have been made to integrate various elements. History reveals that human beings depend on each other for their survival on the earth. We need to exchange the commodity and goods for multiple requirements. Everything was not available in one place; different materials were found in various locations, which led to traveling to foreign markets. Markets have relished a long and rich history embedded in the life and development of towns and cities worldwide. Places of commerce and social life have historically been the center of urban life. Often disassociated from the planning of official public open- space systems, these vernacular markets rarely fell under the auspices of landscape architecture or urban design.

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Grand Bazaar, Istanbul_©en.wikipedia.org
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Isfahan Bazaar, Iran_©archnet.org

Vendors hawk their goods, locals purchase their weekly vegetables, and various knockoffs are sold at competing prices. These urban armatures gathering in market spaces take over the city’s fabric, sliding through streets and passages, overtaking squares, and drawing massive crowds. They transform the streetscape around them, drawing in business and bustle. The market is an architecture dependent on time, conceivably more than any other program. These markets’ temporal nature leaves the city with a programmatic and built vacuum: a and the market as a community institution with an interesting dilemma. These qualities can be seen in market spaces like Chandni Chawk and Manek Chawk, showing temporal properties showing transformation in a day. 

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Chandni Chawk, Delhi_©www.dfordelhi.in

A city is an indispensable organism that survives and grows like other organisms. Towns, cities, and residential areas are the most salient manifestations of human culture. Market spaces are one distinguishing factor of towns in different historical periods, making a city’s social and economic life a sign of progress or backwardness. Sometimes, market space is the center of protest and riots as it gains maximum attention from the targeted bodies that determine society’s destiny. This scenario means that societies develop cultural exchange by the direct sale of goods. Shopping is regarded as a social activity, and the selections made by shopper and shop to visit and locate in an appropriate area together constitute an ‘interface of exchange.’ 

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Besiktas fish market, Istanbul_©www.archdaily.com

The market is a space of sensory experience, social interaction, and three-dimensional rhyme that revitalizes a program that not only goes far beyond retail but promotes shared spaces that bring diverse communities together. Markets like Besiktas fish market, Istanbul and Camden MarketLondon, located in the most populated and diverse neighborhoods, are eclectic market spaces with an urban renewal atmosphere. Thus, market spaces behold qualities depending on the factors like typology, context, organization, social, cultural, economic, and historical relevance. Such an example is Markthal, Rotterdam by MVRDV. The centrally positioned building is rooted in the city’s history, located laterally to the late medieval Laurens church. It is unique in its shape, size, and the way the different functions are combined. The mixed-use of an apartment building covering a fresh food market with food shops, restaurants, supermarkets, and parking cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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Markthal, Rotterdam_©www.dezeen.com

Nowadays, with all our consumers’ needs just a click away, the notion of ‘real-time’ shopping in physical shops is under threat. Advanced technology has enabled new ways to fulfill many human activities in modern society without offering a public space. Consequently, public spaces have been transformed into private or requisite spaces by urban growth, focusing on the quality of improvement that mainly relies on economic, functional, and technological factors. Now, public realms have lost inherent values as social-mediated spaces. This situation has led the city to lose its existentialistic meaning in such gathering space’ and the ‘absence of the public realm.’ Furthermore, aged and unsafe facilities in the marketplaces have prevented people from paying frequent visitations. Above all, the most salient reason for the decrease in the traditional market is modern people’s transformed lifestyle. Rethinking markets’ roles in the urban structure as the new type of social area, supporting urban traditions, and exchanging between communities economically and socially while dealing with current sustainability issues is now necessary. 

Author

Swara is an architect and a keen traveler with a significant interest in writing and blogging. She likes to work on exploratory yet grounded approaches and understands architecture from the perspective of human values and sensitivity. She believes that if drawings speak more, words articulate the most.

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