Monday, November 12, 2012

Bazaar - a layering in time

In a Bazaar, there is a layering of people and of goods. There is also another kind of layering – of spatial configurations that are random in their making and that metamorphose into a different complexity from one day to the next.


The vendor is part of a layering process that has on one hand, spatial elements – those that create his own territory and those that circumvent his territory. On the other hand, there are the changing displays that can be seen as part of one layer or as belonging to more than one layer. The vendor participates in a simultaneous layering of spaces and displays.

There is an organic development within the bazaar where layers may take the form of a shop, a shop extension, a pedestrian accessway, storage of goods, the selling space of the street vendor and the signage that belongs to the street.

One could define a layer in the bazaar to be an outcome of function – walking space, display space, storage space, advertising space, selling space or interaction space. These are layers that do not have a clear demarcation between them. The walking space weaves sometimes in and out of the selling space. The layers are individually and collectively occupied by different user groups at different times. The layers are formed, they interchange sometimes – that which was selling space is returned to the public domain and becomes a walking space and somewhere else, a walking space enters the private domain as it becomes a selling space.

The image shown here is the main entrance of the Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore in Chennai. This is a centuries old temple that is today surrounded on four sides by streets lined with formal shops and informal street vendors. If one is standing in front of the east entrance gate, a layering is perceived where in the foreground is the flower-seller, in the middle ground is a mobile tailor with his sewing machine. The third layer is a sign board that announces the dance recital scheduled to take place within the temple that evening; the fourth layer is the stone wall of the temple and the background layer is the temple space itself.

Opposite the main entrance of the temple at Mylapore is this street lined with houses and shops. It is also the street where the Temple Car (Ratha) is kept through the year. A part of this ratha is seen here as it becomes a place of seating for autorickshaw-drivers, balloon sellers and temple priests. In this image, the two-wheeler parking becomes the foreground layer; the ratha and the people make the second layer; the vehicular access forms the third layer and the residential facades and shopfronts become the fourth layer. It is of course our perception of this urban space that generates the idea of a multi-layered collage.

In a bazaar, every vendor makes his choice about where to locate himself and how to display his goods and it is these choices that add to or subtract from a layer. The vendors adapt and simplify and bring about an urban experience that is an unconcious design effort - a spatial layering that ebbs and flows with time.

3 comments:

Divenita said...

A lovely post with apt pictures.

Anjali said...

Your post are educating Kiran! How are you doing?

Indian Bazaars said...

Divenita: Thanks.

Anjali: Thanks for leaving a comment. Talk to you soon...