The Sustainable Architecture of Bazaars and its Relation with Social, Cultural and Economic Components (Case Study: The Historic Bazaar of Tabriz)


1 M.Sc., Independent researcher,Tabriz, Iran

2 Postdoctoral researcher, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.


Urban commercial quarters such as bazaars can be found all over the world, from Turkey to
Egypt, from Tajikistan to Iran. In Iranian cities, bazaars have very specific and unique architectural features and they
have played an important role as economic and social engines. In addition, bazaars are an integral part of the cultural
geography of Iran and have contributed to the definition of urban development patterns. This paper aims to critically
explore sustainable architectural elements in historic bazaars and their relation to social and cultural components. This
paper’s theoretical exploration is developed by detailing relevant findings from a case study on the significance of
the sustainable architectural elements of the historic Bazaar of Tabriz, and it debates the relationship between those
architectural elements and socio-cultural and economic components. A qualitative methodology, specifically in-depth
interviews with shop-owners and customers and in loco observation, was employed. Findings show that the Bazaar of
Tabriz has preserved its sustainability both in terms of architecture, by rigorous preservation, and in terms of sociocultural
and economic components, by maintaining an exciting daily dynamic and a healthy relationship between shopowners,
customers, local administration and the city of Tabriz. The preservation of unique and authentic sustainable
architectural features, together with the maintenance of public spaces, such as mosques and schools, benefits the
population of Tabriz and brings visitors every day to the shopping area of the complex, thus maintaining a constant flux
and social, cultural and economic dynamics.