Prolific Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji has greatly contributed to Iraq’s modernism, thought and built environment. Here, we offer a look at some of his buildings.
One of the 20th century’s greatest Arab architects, Rifat Chadirji, has largely impacted Iraq’s modernism, architectural thought and built environment. Through his work, which included more than 100 buildings in Iraq and the greater Middle East, as well as various architectural publications, his influence spans decades, and continues to impact the region’s architects today.
Born in Baghdad in 1926, Chadirji’s work was bolstered by his innate understanding of authentic regional expression, while drawing from modernism and its principles. He saw the best architecture as an interaction between social needs and social technology, which was the subject of his best-selling book Concepts and Influences: Towards a Regionalized International Architecture.
Through his practice, Iraq Consult, he designed many buildings in Iraq, including the The Unknown Soldier Monument (1959), the platform of the Freedom Monument (1959) in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, the Central Post Offices (1970), the Federation of Industries, the Ministers’ Cabinet (1975), the National Insurance Company in Mosul and the Rafidain Bank (1969), the Veterinary Hospital (1964), the Academy of Science in Baghdad (1965), the School for Veterinary Medicine in Baghdad (1965-1967), and the Tobacco Monopoly Company building in Baghdad (1966). He also built orphanages in Duhok and Arbil (1969) and the Institute for the Deaf, Mute, and Mentally Challenged (1970).
In addition to his buildings, Chadirji was an important cultural figure between the 1950s and 80s: he also worked as a planning consultant and Director of Buildings for various government agencies, and taught at the Baghdad School of Architecture for years.
Perhaps a bigger source of pride for the late architect is his photographic archive – a collection of 80,000 photographs that document social life in Iraq from the late 1950s through the early 80s. His anthropological approach to photography makes his collection one of the most unique documentations of traditional Iraqi neighbourhoods, crafts and religious ceremonies and rites.
Chadirji passed away at the age of 93 in London on 10 April, 2020. In his memory, Round City has collected several images of his built work, taken from Tamayouz Excellence Award’s digital archive.