• March 27, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
  • No comments
An open international ideas contest has been launched to transform Baghdad’s abandoned Old Governorate Building into a new design centre.

Open to multidisciplinary teams of architects, students, engineers and designers, the anonymous competition seeks ambitious proposals to convert the historic Al-Rusafa district landmark which was reduced to ruins amid looting and vandalism following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. 

The call for ideas – organised by Iraqi architectural awards initiative Tamayouz – seeks radical proposals to help protect the city’s many historic buildings threatened by comprehensive regeneration following the conflict. 

Concepts should retain the building’s surviving façade and include a 200-capacity flexible exhibition space along with a workshop, library, offices, co-working area, café and outdoor public space. 

According to the brief: ‘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.’ 

Located on both sides of the Tigris River roughly in the centre of the country, Baghdad is the capital and largest city of Iraq and home to around 8.8 million people. The historic settlement has lost more than half of its heritage and listed buildings since the 2003 invasion. 

The Old Governorate Building occupies a prominent waterfront site within the Al-Rusafa old town district close to the Abbasid Palace. Constructed in the early 20th-century the complex was heavily vandalised following the conflict and now only its façade remains. The site is now used as a meeting point by locals. 

Last year Tamayouz held a contest for new housing for refugees returning to Mosul following its anticipated liberation from Isis. The winning scheme, by Anna Otlik from Wroclaw in Poland, featured new homes co-designed by the returning families themselves. 

This year’s competition seeks proposals for a new design centre featuring a 200-capacity flexible exhibition space along with a workshop, library, offices, co-working area, café and outdoor public space. The competition language is English and the judging panel has yet to be announced. 

The overall winner will receive the inaugural Rifat Chadirji Prize worth around £3,500 along with flights and accommodation to attend the annual Tamayouz awards ceremony. There will also be a second and third prize worth approximately £700 each, a sustainability prize of £350, and seven honourable mentions. 

The registration deadline is 6 September and submissions must be completed by 9 September. 

How to apply 

Contact: Tamayouz, The Apex, 2 Sheriffs Orchard, Coventry, CV1 3AA, The United Kingdom or  Email: info@rifatchadirji.com 

by Merlin Fulcher


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