Being Iran's second largest city, Mashhad is also one of the largest religious capitals in the world. Over recent years however the city has been struggling with numerous issues including the extensive demolition of the historic district and an ill-proportioned city texture with high-rise constructions. The Cheshm-o-Cheragh Bazaar by ABAR Office is a new contemporary addition that aim to improve the city’s urban and social condition.
The site of the project is an area of 571 square meters within an historical district, and adjacent to “Gonbad-e-Sabz”, an outstanding architectural monument with a 400-year-old history. Gonbad-e-Sabz is highly respected among the people as it is the tomb of a well-known Safavid mystic -Sheikh Mohammad Momen.
It is also a much loved social gathering place. The architects explain that the prime challenge in designing the building was how to address this particular context, fitting in the cultural spirit alongside commercial functions.
Although a three-storey building would have been permitted by the municipality, three commercial floors would become taller than Gonbad-e-Sabz.
The architects not only refused to build to the height limit but actually constructed the bazaar one floor lower than the height limit to remain in scale and place an emphasis on the ground plane relationship of building to public space.
The interior of the building is fluid and largely transparent thanks to generous voids, while the exterior is solidly built with minimal openings. Spatial integrity, visual and circulation continuity, and light transmission were key aims of this strategy.
The entire form of the Bazaar is constructed with historic brick with new and contemporary materials like metal and glass inserted alongside. In total, 230,000 bricks dating between 60 and 300-years-old were recovered from the historic district. The clear differences in brick size, colour, and texture were addressed by specialists in conservation.