The market stretches about a kilometer long and is located on the north-eastern outskirts of Bishkek. Technically, the market is composed of several (about 9) different markets, but there are no fences or demarcations to indicate the different areas, each of which specializes in various types of consumer goods. The market is so popular because Bishkek is one of the main entry ports of consumer goods arriving from China into Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.
A report from 2005 estimated that the market is composed of 6,000 to 7,000 shipping containers, which are stacked into place to be used as vendors’ shops on the bottom and storage units on the top. The containers are probably stockpiled from importing so many goods from China and they have been organized in such a way as to create streets and plazas, while various office buildings, shops, and restaurants fill the empty spaces in between. Large shade structures have been built over the streets between the containers to help keep the market place cool and protected from the elements. An estimated 20,000 people work at the market as vendors, security, service personal, restaurateurs, etc. Although it’s certainly not as sophisticated as some cargotecture projects we’ve seen, the market does show how useful repurposed containers can be.
Images Courtesy of Wikimedia