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. 

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Anonymous said...

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kiran keswani said...

Thanks for writing

The Yossarian said...

Do you believe a market can actually be designed?

I like to think that a market can never be successfully designed. The perfect market is one that originates and grows on its own.

kiran said...

I've always believed that an Indian Bazaar has such a vibrancy and an unceasing charm because it has never been formally designed.

However, in the urban areas, new markets are increasingly being planned and built by the local municipal authorities.

A few years ago, in Andhra Pradesh, the government planned and constructed 'Rythu bazaars' or 'Farmers markets' that could make it possible for a farmer or his family members to come to the city from the peripheral areas and fetch a better price for their produce. There were DWCRA bazaars that were being built for women from the rural areas to bring their crafts for sale.

In Madurai, the old flower market near the Meenakshi temple was shut down, after a new wholesale flower market (an RCC building) was built at the outskirts of the city.

In many parts of India, new wholesale markets are being planned and constructed. The retail markets that lie in the more denser fabric of the cities and towns change in the functions they perform. The city grows around them at a pace that this bazaar has never anticipated.

So, I think we need to understand the organic nature, the adaptability and the indigenous design within the Indian bazaar spaces and craftsmanship, just so that, when we do plan a new market or revitalise an old one, we are able to design them as best as possible.

As for the Mauritian Bazaar Redevelopment, the stakeholder meeting with the vendors revealed that they already foresaw the need for a new space since the vehicular traffic around the market had grown tremendously, there weren't sufficient parking facilities for their customers, because of which they were losing their customers to new hypermarkets elsewhere. From the municipal council's perspective, there were more tourists in Mauritius today than 20 years ago. They felt the need for an urban design solution that could understand some of the existing public spaces, the vernacular architecture of the region and respond to changing needs of both local residents and tourists would benefit Rose Hill in the long-term.