“Context-sensitive and coherent with specifics of culture and geography”
Project description by jury
The Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq are a unique site of high natural and cultural value with a desperate need for educational facilities and policy measures for the architectural heritage preservation. The project asserts the design and construction of an educational facility in Basra to accommodate classrooms, a library and a music room, as well as multipurpose halls and activity rooms. The pedagogical complex is generated by the repetition of vaulted roof units centered around a large square that is accessible to the public. The architectural language recalls traditional geometries and construction techniques of the Mesopotamian (or Iraqi) Marshes and emphasizes the traditional vernacular bioclimatic features. The building is constructed principally using rammed earth cast on-site from local soil. The walls are further stabilized through the addition of a small proportion of cement to create a hybrid material that is very affordable and more durable. The uppermost sections of the walls are made of woven reeds that allow the access of daylight and enable cross-ventilation in the classrooms. Entirely built by the local workforce, the project is implemented as a collaborative community hub, resulting in an opportunity for knowledge and skill transfer to younger generations.