Research into the architecture and life of one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Image: Caravanserai, 1973 from The Bazaar of Isfahan

Specialist in Anthropology of Architecture, Dr Marcel Vellinga is the editor of a new book launched this week (2 March) looking at the city of Isfahan in Iran and the history of one of its most famous bazaars.

The manuscript, The Bazaar of Isfahan, was originally written in the 1970s by Paul Oliver and provides an extensive and remarkable insight into the architecture and life of one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East.

The drawings, plans and photographs are of great documentary value and remain of great interest today, as they capture the bazaar as it was during the 1970s and as such provide a rare glimpse of its recent history.

As a reflection of all cultural, sociological and economic activity, the bazaar is the most significant place in a town.

I am confident that the work as it is now published comes as close to the wishes of the original authors as is possible and its fantastic to see it finished.

Dr Marcel Vellinga, Oxford Brookes University

The book is published as originally envisioned by Paul Oliver and the other authors Ali Asghar Bakhtiar and John Donat.

Dr Vellinga, Reader in Anthropology of Architecture at Oxford Brookes produced an introductory essay for the new book which provides contextualisation and details its history.

He said: “This project was supported through a grant from the University’s central research fund which enabled me to carry out the initial research into the background of the manuscript and also research other writings on bazaars, Iran and Isfahan to provide context.

“The Barakat Trust generously supported the selection and digitisation of images.”

“I am confident that the work as it is now published comes as close to the wishes of the original authors as is possible and its fantastic to see it finished.”

The book will be launched at Oxford Brookes University on Thursday 2 March at 6.30pm in the School of Architecture, Headington Campus.

Paul Oliver is an art historian who graduated from the University of London in 1955. During his career he has taught at various institutions, including Oxford Brookes for more than 30 years. He has written and edited a large number of books on vernacular architecture, most notably the monumental Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture ofthe World (1997).

At the end of 2016 Paul Oliver’s Vernacular Architecture Archival Collection was deposited in the Special Collections section of Oxford Brookes' main library.

Ali Asghar Bakhtiar (1915-2015) was an architect from Isfahan, Iran. A graduate of the Architectural Association, Bakhtiar worked for The Asia Institute at Pahlavi (now Shiraz) University and Tehran Polytechnic (now Amirkabir University).

John Donat (1933-2004) was one of the foremost British architectural photographers of the twentieth century, as well as a writer and broadcaster, whose work has been published widely in architectural books, journals and magazines.

For more information about the School of Architecture and its research visit the website.

The book is published by Argumentum in Portugal.

Image: Caravanserai, 1973 from The Bazaar of Isfahan