Register: SEP/06/2018, Submit: SEP/09/2018, Eligibility: Architects, students, engineers, designers; individually, (multidisciplinary) teams up to 4 members, Fee: 40 GBP/50 USD (FEB/09 – JUN/06/2018), 58 GBP/75 USD (JUN/07 – AUG/31/2017), 75 GBP/100 USD (SEP/01 – SEP/06/2018), Awards: 1st Prize 5,000 USD, 2nd Prize 1,000 USD, 3rd Prize 1,000 USD, People’s Choice Award 500 USD, 7 Honorable Mentions, Top 20
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq with an area of 204.2 square kilometres and a population of 8,765,000 making it the largest city in Iraq, the second largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo, Egypt) and the second largest city in Western Asia (after Tehran, Iran). Baghdad is situated on both sides of the Tigris River. The city is approximately 300 miles from the northern, southern, and western borders of the country. It has a temperature range of 5°C – 15°C in winter and an average of 47°C in summer. Baghdad is divided into two parts by the Tigris River; the eastern part is called Al-Rusafa and the western part is called Al-Karkh.
The Abbasid Caliphate established their capital in the city of Baghdad in 762CE. Over the next five centuries, Islamic culture flourished and Baghdad became renowned as a centre of learning and tolerance. Scholarship was encouraged and scientists, doctors, philosophers and engineers made significant advances in their fields. Art and architecture combined to produce beautiful mosques and palaces. This period is known as the Golden Age of Islam.
SITE AND THE OLD BUILDING
The site is the old Baghdad Governorate Building in Al-Rusafa side of Baghdad (old Al-Rusafa area), the site lies between Al-Rasheed st. to the north, Al-Mutanabbi st., Al-Shuhadaa Bridge and Madrasa Mustansiriya to the east, the Abbasid Palace to the west and Al-Qishla and Tigris river to the south. The partially remaining building fabric on the competition site is what was once the Old Baghdad Governorate Building built in the early 20th century.
The Old Baghdad Governorate building was heavily damaged (only the skin of the building remains) due to the looting and the vandalism in the week that followed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The site is currently underused, and have not been properly maintained. The competition site and the skin of the old building are now called Al-Multaqa (the meeting point), where people usually meet before heading to the crowded surrounding areas.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
The competition site is in the old Rusafa neighbourhood, Old Rusafa is the historic centre of Baghdad and has a long history going back to thousand years. This old core has become a complex urban organism. The area of Old Rusafa once enclosed within the old wall is approximately 5.4 square kilometers, contains nearly 15,700 buildings. Currently, Rusafa forms a contracting mixture of dense irregular traditional fabric and gridiron modern developments often conflicting with each other in form, scale, and function, the importance of Old Rusafa is of not only local but also regional and national dimensions. It contains the biggest concentrations of traditional suqs and workshops and some of the most significant mosques and government and administrative buildings in Iraq.
Mutanabbi Street is located near the old quarter of Baghdad; at Al Rasheed Street. It is the historic center of Baghdadi book-selling, a street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. It was named after the 10th-century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi. This street is well established for bookselling and has often been referred to as the heart and soul of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community and it is the closest to the competition site.
Al-Rasheed Street in downtown Baghdad is the heart of this area and contains the city’s financial district, many government buildings, and the copper, textile, and gold bazaars. South of Rashīd Street a commercial area with shops, cinemas, and business offices has spread along Saʿdūn Street. Parallel to Saʿdūn, Abū Nuwās Street on the riverfront was once the city’s showpiece and-as befits a thoroughfare named for a poet known for his libidinous verse-its entertainment centre.
The period following 2003 has been one of the most challenging times for modern Iraq. In the wake of the US invasion and the looting that followed it, the country witnessed and felt countless traumas affecting all parts of society. Crimes against public property surged, while attacks on Iraq’s art, culture and heritage became commonplace.
Since 2003, more than half of the listed and historical buildings have been lost. At the moment, the majority of Iraq’s heritage buildings have become victim to two negative approaches: either they are intentionally or unintentionally neglected, leading to their collapse or they are unlisted and replaced with modern, low-quality developments. In the last 15 years, 700 buildings out of 1,300 historical buildings in the Iraqi capital have been lost, according to various news reports. Old Al-Rusafa is one of the historic centres of Baghdad, and its built fabric has been under pressure from modern development and has suffered tremendous losses in terms of its traditional forms.
For this reason, this competition hopes to see a new architectural approach that helps Baghdad celebrate its heritage and raise awareness of the importance of maintaining all the layers of its history and heritage. The transformation of the site into a Design Centre that showcases the best of contemporary Iraqi design and is also a space of creative collaboration forms the basis of the brief. Whilst creating a new and optimistic vision for the future of design within Iraq the proposals should also set a benchmark for the respectful treatment of cultural heritage in a true fusion of the old and the new.
Participants are asked to transform the current unused site of the Old Governorate Building into the Baghdad Design Centre while integrating the damaged facades in their ideas for the new building. The facades will be a memorial for an era in Baghdad’s history.
The 8m high damaged facade is to be incorporated into the design of the Baghdad Design Centre.
- A Flexible Space for Exhibitions, meetings and Lectures (up to 200 people)
- Shared workshop space for artists, architects and designers
- Reception with 2 administrative offices
- Co-working and shared office space for startups
- A Cafe / with a seating area and restrooms
- Parking is not required
A public space: The site, currently free of programme, provides spatial relief within a very dense urban fabric and has become a meeting place. It is suggested that a significant part of the proposed use could be maintained as a public space.