UKNA - Urban Asia presentation series

An Inhabitable Infrastructure. Rethinking the Architecture of the Bazaar

Please note that due to limited seating and lunch arrangements registration is required. 

An UKNA lecture by Negar Sanaan Bensi (Delft University of Technology).

The bazaar is a complex notion and a loaded term. Not only it has implication in diverse disciplines, but also it carries various definitions. Depending on the context in which it is used, the bazaar (and its adjectival form: bazaari) might be depicted as a place, a form of economy, a social class or a way of life and thus it can embody the notion of an architectonic object, a city, a territory or it can even be expanded to the region known as Middle East or the Islamic world.

The bazaar has become a recurrent topic visited by various scholars in architecture and urban history, as well as anthropology, sociology, economic and political sciences. This is on one hand, because of the central and intricate role that the bazaar has had in the history and the current life of the Iranian city. On the other hand, it is a response to explain the relevance and involvement of the bazaar to the last century’s socio-political transformations in Iran.

To give some context, initially this lecture reflects upon the conceptualizations and definitions, formulated on the bazaar among various material sources, in a brief way. In doing so, it identifies what has been excluded and neglected by these studies. Later, through rethinking the architecture of the bazaar and its spatial features, this talk addresses the relation between architecture and territory, inhabitation and infrastructure and ways of life within the context of Iranian plateau. It examines the possibility of constructing a discursive platform for studying the bazaar as a complex architectural entity [and not an object]. It posits a critical reading on bazaar’s primary spatial idea, suggesting that the territorial reading of the bazaar can provide valuable alternative lenses for looking beyond mere preservation concerns of bazaar’s physical structure or pure formal imitations that are normally applied when regarding current condition of the bazaar in Iranian cities. It seeks to re-define the intermediate position of the bazaar as a way to discover new orders and hierarchies within and without the city.

Negar Sanaan Bensi is a PhD student at TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture. She graduated as an architect from Iran University of Science & Technology (IUST, Tehran) in 2006 with cum laude. She received her master degree in Architecture from TU Delft in 2009 with cum laude. In 2011, she obtained an honorable mention in Dutch National Archiprix for her graduation project “Space of the Voids: the space of remembrance and forgetfulness”.

She has worked as a researcher and tutor at Architecture faculty at TU Delft. Her research concerns the relation between architecture and territory, infrastructure and inhabitation [with its main focus on Iran]. She has published several articles, given lectures and attended conferences and debates.

In her view architectural knowledge and architectural projects should be involved with contextual studying of complex spatial regimes and mechanisms as their prime forces for intervention. And hence, the production of architectural form is influenced by underlying cultural, historical and economic forces, environmental issues and aesthetic value systems.

About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, an IIAS researcher or visiting scholar will present his or her work-in-progress in an informal setting to colleagues and other interested attendees. IIAS organises these lunch lectures to give the research community the opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas.

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