Sustainability of traditional markets post-revitalization: a case study of Bulu and Peterongan markets in Semarang, Indonesia

From Firenze University Press Journal: Aestimum

University of Florence
4 min readOct 21, 2021


Suzanna Ratih Sari, Department of Engineering, Architecture Department, Diponegoro University

Nindita Kresna Murti, Department of Engineering, Architecture Department, Diponegoro University

Muhammad Fariz Hilmy, Department of Engineering, Architecture Department, Diponegoro University

Sustainability is a concept observed to be important to urban development as discussed at the UN Conference in Quito, Ecuador 2016 and added as one of the indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Sutopo et al., 2014). The SDGs were designed as the new development agenda to accommodate all the changes experienced post-2015, especially regarding the world situation since 2000 on the issues of depletion of natural resources, environmental damages, climate change, social protection, food, energy, security, and development for the poor. It is, however, possible to develop a city through its traditional market by using revitalization programs which is a method proposed to preserve contemporary architecture’s heritage to accommodate funding (Penica et al., 2015).

The Government of Indonesia has implemented this program to revive traditional markets in the country but its implementation has not been effective as observed from the quietness and unsustainability of the revitalized markets.The existence of traditional markets in Indonesia is based on local people’s cultural heritage (Prastyawan et al., 2015) and they are usually visited by several people from different ethnicities, races, and characters, thereby, making the markets to be rich in culture. Some of the advantages of these traditional markets include cheaper and negotiable prices of quality goods than modern markets and this is the reason for their preference by customers. Meanwhile, their existence is being threatened by the emergence of modern markets such as supermarkets and minimarkets which are growing significantly due to the influence of globalization, thereby, making competition with the traditional markets inevitable (Jeong and Ban, 2020; Prabowo et al., 2017). Several facilities of the traditional markets have also been reported to be incomplete and inadequate (Wibowo and Istiqo-mah, 2018) and this has led to the closure of some of them due to their inability to compete in the industry. Moreover, customers have been observed to be shifting to modern markets due to poor planning, uncomfortable access, overcrowded trading activities, lack of air circulation, and poor sanitation in traditional markets (Tanuwidjaja and Wirawan, 2015). This means revitalization efforts are needed to sustain traditional markets (Sari et al., 2020) by repairing untreated buildings to make them tidier and cleaner but rebuilding instead of revitalizing tends to obscure the values and identity of these markets (Senasaputro, 2017).

As previously stated, revitalization is a method proposed to preserve contemporary architectural heritage (Penica et al., 2015) to maintain the physical, social, cultural, and local identity aspects of the significant buildings (Kusrini and Kismanto, 2011). This is necessary due to the ability of globalization to affect the architectural form of buildings and sometimes eliminate their identity and local culture (Sudikno, 2017). Therefore, traditional markets are often renovated using the theme “revitalization” to make their building to be more well-groomed and tidier but the cultural values embedded for a long time are mostly ignored by the stakeholders involved in the development process, thereby, leading to the loss of these values, levelled to the ground, and covered with new materials.

Bulu and Peterongan markets in Semarang City, Indonesia are two of the largest historic markets in the city. Meanwhile, history is no longer depicted in the Bulu Market due to its utter revitalization in 2012 which led to the replacement of the original building materials or structures with the latest designs and materials. The same was also observed in the Peterongan market but it maintains its original building and has not changed much of its spatial layout. It is important to note that revitalization efforts are usually implemented to revive the functionality and maintain the existence of the buildings in these markets (Soewarno et al., 2018) but it most times require demolishing old buildings to build new ones, as shown in Bulu Market and this means the market is no longer sustainable.

The case is, however, different from the Peterongan Market which is fully sustainable. Moreover, the uncomprehensive revitalization standard is one factor causing all traditional markets to be unsuccessful after they have been revitalized (Anggraini et al., 2017).Several studies have discussed the physical changes in post-revitalization of traditional markets with some focused on the revitalization methods to preserve historical landmarks, provide a new function, and adapt historic buildings to modern requirements (Penica et al., 2015). Another example is the revitalization of Indies building through the application of new functions (Wibisono et al., 2020) which increased the retail property value around the building (Jayantha and Yung, 2018). Some of the implications of these efforts is a change in tradition, market building structure, market patterns, a decrease in traders’ profit, and loss of livelihoods (Aprilia, 2017; Gumilang et al., 2017). However, these studies only focus on the physical changes of a building. The discussion that was carried out did not extend to other aspects and also the sustainability of the market itself, remembering that the market buildings studied were historical buildings as well as Indies buildings.Based on these several studies, researchers want to see not only the physical changes, but their impact on the sustainability of the market itself. The success of a building revitalization program is not only determined by how much physical changes are made, but whether the building is in accordance with the needs of its users.

Besides, other non-physical aspects also need to be considered such as cultural values or local wisdom embedded in these buildings, because the principle of sustainability does not only pay attention to economic, social and environmen-tal aspects, but cultural aspects are also included (Appendino, 2017). By examining case studies using these aspects, an optimal and sustainable revitalization strategy will be obtained. The outcome is expected to be used in increasing the sustainabil-ity of the post-revitalized Bulu and Peterongan Markets.


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