The Pazar Making



Turkey’s open-air neighborhood markets, the pazar, penetrate every neighborhood one day a week for centuries. Yet, neither this ephemeral marketplace nor the man-made generative structure that defines its practice has changed with any significance despite social, cultural and technological transformations. The pazar fundamental practice of place-making, in its absolute agility, simplicity and responses to terrain and climate, has been nearly perfected along with the choreography of set-up and take-down. The structure is a distinctive practice of co-creation; using the forces of kinetics and redundancy to create compact or expansive market place. What is unique about it is the use of passive open space, like streets, watersheds or residual lands, but never an active public space as parks, highways or public squares. On this ground, this research documents the information about the pazar as valuable intangible heritage encompassing the locations of the pazar in the city, their specific characters and means of constructing daily open markets. The insight of the study is aimed to offer novel agile approaches in regard to the spatial design for contemporary open-air exchanges as well as new directions in man-made generative structures for ephemeral place-making in the cities.










The pazarcı is a trader who carries and constructs an open-marketplace (stall and structure) into different neighborhood locations through all seasons and weathers. The pazarcı sets up the market only for a single day and the structure is created from their own collection of poles, ropes and tarps. “If a man sets up his stall every day at the same spot or has a storage for the goods which is enough for more than a single day, he isn’t a pazarcı; he is practically a shop-owner.”

The pazarcı is an independent tradesman who conducts business with a triple authority system: taxation, chamber registration and tradesmen registration. 

There are four main actors in the pazarcı’s commerce supply chain: producer of the goods, wholesales market middleman, the open-market builder/trader (pazarcı) and the customer. 

The pazarcı tradesman registration considers their practice as an artisan builder with the know-how to construct and de-construct the pazar structure that creates the temporary market place. 



Tents, ropes, stalls and piers are the main components of our market places. Trees, buildings, balconies, balustrades, poles and other vertical urban components are also parts of our mega structures. As we always set up in the same place we insert holes or use the ones provided by the chamber, park our trucks to the proper parking lot closed by.

The existing urban elements are also part of the system to transfer the force used to steepen up the poles (wooden or metal), locate it to the desired spot and connect them to the tarps. Pazarci use special knots for each rope and they apply it all ropes first in a main pole and then transfer the force through these knots and connected ropes on the way to tarps.



Although it seems somewhat impromptu practice to build pazar, pazarci have very methodological techniques, collaboration systems and specific equipment to give a shape of their daily work place.

“We individually build our canopy and cooperate with the adjacent stallholders to ensure the structure is expansive in order to provide shelter and safety. Since we and our customers active in all hours and seasons weather protection and comfort is inclusive to our job. In rain we provide shelter and efficient drainage, in sun we provide shade, in the daytime our tarps transmit the perfect natural light levels and in the winter we provide lighting after dusk.”




The pazarcı is not troubled with the local markets since they’re in different neighborhood every day. Residents certainly need markets for the other days. However, market chains have unfair competitions, apply damping buy selling cheaper than pazars on just pazar days, having more promotions on sidewalks, occuping more
spaces on the ways to pazars.



Policy advocates consider the pazar practice as one of long-term trust building towards the security of affordable fresh goods to all neighborhoods in Istanbul. 

Unlike supermarket chains that exclude customers’ direct feedback to demand quality and fair pricing, the pazarcı creates personal and sometimes long-term relationships with their customers.

The day of the weekly pazar affects many traders and residents including shopkeepers, taxi-drivers, street vendors and people from other services. Throughout the day pazarcı also have utilized strategies such as ‘night discounts at the market close’ or ‘come early pay less,’ which vary the tempo of footfall in various commerce areas.

Istanbul’s pazar numbers have increased in the past decade highlighting their self-organizing nature, Istanbul’s citizen’s preference for open-air fresh good markets and the ability of pazarcı to adapt to the changing socio-economic contexts. In 2015 there is an average of 66 pazar per day in Istanbul; Sunday being the most active with 76 pazar and Monday being the least active with 54 pazar.

The demand of the pazarcı and customers is explicit and enduring. The pazarcı shared their view how the big city center pazarcould be removed and relocated to the covered structures. However, none should be privatized and moved to the remote locations at the far peripheries of the city. Yet, the neighborhood pazar should be rehabilitated with the required services on their existing locations.