Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mauritius bazaars

There are bazaars in Mauritius that are organic in their planning. There are people in Mauritius of Indian, French and African origin. This reflects in its urban selling spaces.

Within the Bazar Rose Hill, as it is called amongst local residents, there are no demarcations between spaces that vendors occupy. It is a shared space. Recently, I had an opportunity to work on the 'Redevelopment of the Bazar Rose Hill' - a project initiated by the Municipal Council of Beau Bassin, a district of Mauritius.

Mauritius Bazar Rose Hill

The market occupies a triangular property surrounded on three sides by busy roads. It is a part of the Central Business District, where the real estate prices are high. This is a situation quite similar to our Indian markets. The city grows denser around a central marketplace. It was suggested that the market be temporarily moved to a part of the Duval stadium nearby and this triangular plot be redesigned as a Shopping cum Tourist complex. We eventually prepared an urban design proposal which permanently relocated the vegetable and fruit market to the stadium periphery and created a "market square" with additional buildings with contemporary shops and cafetarias. The second proposal was the architectural design solution for the original triangular site, with the idea of a place that would attract both tourists and local residents with its craft shops, eating outlets and facilities for business travellers to Mauritius.

In India, as elsewhere, it is always difficult to improve upon an existing market., as observed in one of my previous posts - Planning for the Transition

I walked around the Rose Hill region to study it as much as possible. I found that the character of the Bazar Rose Hill was made more interesting with the innovations in the outlets of the bread vendors. I also visited the Central Market in Port Louis and La Caudan waterfront with its contemporary shopping places .

In Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius, the “market” is an entire region that consists of several streets that have grown from this nucleus that sells fruits and vegetables and where people congregate to buy their daily necessities.

Today, it is also an interesting area for tourists who can buy crafts, who can see what it is like to be in Mauritian markets and to be a part of the lives of the people here. 

Related Posts:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly market in Tamil town

The weekly market at Theni takes place every Sunday. Theni is a small town in Tamil Nadu. The concept of a weekly market has existed since a long time in India. In some places, it is held in a village which acts as the focal point for several villages in a region. Sometimes, it is at an important road junction or point where important roads meet, where the weekly market spreads itself on all sides of these roads, with one part being a chilli bazaar, another one a livestock selling yard and another a market selling farm implements with the vegetable market offering a good price on everything from retail to wholesale wares.

The shelters for the weekly market are temporary comprising of plastic sheets for roofing to corrugated metal and bamboo matting. In Theni, unlike in most other places, the shelters are in canvas fabric that has been beautifully stitched at the edges.

Just as vernacular houses in villages and small towns in India are a record of the indigenous building skills, the bazaars within our many small towns also reflect the ingenuity of the artisan who continues to work with his hands and to use natural materials in a cost-effective way. It is important to identify the artisans who make the tents for the weekly market.

Local skills in making these tents can be tapped also for other uses such as tourism camp sites so that there are more opportunities for these artisans to practice their skill and to hone it further for contemporary use.

Friday, February 29, 2008

the "Bakery" in the Indian marketplace

We have in India the "bakery" which sells factory-made bread or the locally made "bun". But, this is only one of the hundred odd items for sale here. It is actually the convenience store.

It is only another version of the kirana shop or the "mom and pop traditional corner stores" as they are being referred to today. Here, you sometimes can buy your dals, cereals, spices and other groceries and sometimes not. The shopfront in this bakery is usually lined with large glass jars that hold home-made nankatais (cookies) and locally made bread.

It sells plastic brushes, plastic bags, plastic tea cups. Today, this bakery is also where you can buy your prepaid cellphone card.

"All those who expect big retailers like Walmart to come in and devour small kirana shops should pause and think. Can Big Retail really do that? Just look at what the average kirana store offers the average Indian household" writes Gaurav Sabnis, in an interesting article linked here : Kirana will still Rule

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bazaars and Indigenous design

Bazaars are a valuable study in indigenous thought that stems from the “education” of the vendor who has learnt intrinsically from his surrounding natural environment and from his “non-education” which understands design to be a collective effort. There is nothing that belongs to a pre-planned aesthetic or to a designer’s style. Space and Place are both seen as an outcome of random forces in nature and man’s individual and collective responses to it.

The YouTube film is by isoguruvinod. Here is a link to their website:

The vendors who belong to the bazaar adapt to the people who enter and leave the bazaar and to their needs in terms of the spatial configurations and the visual displays they generate as a way of selling better.

In the cities, on the one hand, markets are being built by the Municipal Corporations with better infrastructure but they may lack local flavour and the vigour of the lives of the Indian people. On the other hand, malls are being constructed in small and big cities and retail shopping takes on a new direction.