Background Sadr City, also known as Al Thawra City, is located on the far eastern side of Baghdad in Al Rusafa. The original name, Al Thawra City (meaning revolution in Arabic), derives from the July 14, 1958 revolution. The city’s name was later changed to Al Sadr City after Mohammad Sadeq Al-Sadr – an important religious cleric – following the fall of Baghdad and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In this brief, we will refer to it as ‘Almedina’, or ‘the city’, as locals often do.
Providing housing for Baghdad’s urban poor, the majority of which were migrants from Iraq’s rural areas in the south, Almedina was designed by Greek city planner Constantinos Doxiadis, part of the large-scale projects launched by the Iraqi Development Board in the mid-1950s, Almedina’s urban model consisted of repetitive housing and neighbourhood designs that would accommodate the displaced migrants, around whom, a belt of improvised settlements had begun to form. Doxiadis’ planning had one main objective: to design housing for low-income families, and he did so without taking into consideration social structure, the spirit of the place or the potential for enormous growth in a relatively very short period of time.
What resulted were poorly kept areas, consisting of narrow and closed roads that connect to very modest public facilities. One of the remaining consequences is the overcrowding of residential units, which now house up to three times their intended capacity. The implementation of Almedina’s infrastructure has not been completed, either, and some of the streets remained unpaved until very recently.
The Sectors of Almedina Almedina has a total area of approximately 20 square kilometres. It includes 80 sectors, with the design of each differing only slightly. The rectangular sectors each maintain an area of approximately 500 metres by 400 metres, and have around 1,000 houses (each around 140 square metres) and two service areas. Each sector also has at least one mosque and two schools. The population density of Almedina is more than 600 person per hectare, which is equivalent to the housing density set for vertical housing. The population exceeds two million inhabitants, which is about 20 percent of Baghdad’s population.
Souq Mredy The competition site is edged by a popular market called Souq Mredy, which is located in the centre of Almedina. Souq Mredy, or Mredy market, sits on Al Chwadir Street between Al Gayyara Street and Al Sharika Street. The length of the market is about 1,500 metres, or three of the city’s sectors, and its width is approximately 60 metres, although it is constantly expanding (see previous page for location of Souq Mredy in Almedina).
The market is incredibly popular, and it sells various products including rare and prohibited goods.
Mredy market became famous in the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. As travel abroad was prohibited, services like the counterfeiting of passports and the legalisation of academic study certificates were available here.
The Municipality of Baghdad tried to remove the market several times due to the congestion that leads to cutting the main street but to no avail. The pop-up shops and stalls that fill the main part of Al Chwadir Street and the Mredy market have long been a major impediment to traffic in this central nerve of Almedina, and these shops have proliferated significantly since 2005, causing a complete blockage of Al Chwadir Street.
The Site The competition site forms parts of sectors 34 and 43. The part in sector 34 is currently occupied with public buildings, including a post office, while the other part of the competition site that is in sector 43 is currently occupied with residential units, as well as shops, workshops, a mosque and a local health centre, all of which can be seen via the attached maps. However, for the purpose of this competition, we will assume the acquisition of the area of the project, while providing suitable alternatives for the transferring of housing units and other functions (this is not within the scope of the competition).
The Challenge 60 percent of Iraq’s population is aged between 15 and 35 years, while those between 15 and 24 years make up 20 percent of the country’s population. These individuals grew up during the period that followed the fall of Baghdad and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A generation exhausted by chaos, war and the collapse of social structure, while also confronted with the ways of life elsewhere via the Internet and social media, the county’s youth nurtured a growing conviction that Iraq deserves much better than the status quo – especially when considering its resources and the potential of its youth.
Almedina suffers from major urban problems, such as high population density, inadequate services, and poor health and living conditions.
Part of this generation’s desires and demands can be achieved through contact and communication with others in an environment that fosters dialogue and creative activities. A Youth House and a public plaza welcoming visitors from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds will serve as a platform to exchange ideas and aspirations, with the opportunity to unleash their creative ideas without restrictions.
The Response Participants are asked to design a multi-activity youth complex and a public plaza in Almedina, creating a youthful cultural strip and a public platform that can host various cultural and social events.
The Youth House, the plaza and their integration with each other and their surrounding context should inspire a transformation of the urban scene of Almedina.
The plaza should be regarded as a public, free, urban space that can be used by all people of Almedina, while considering its relation to the vibrant street market and other public buildings and spaces in the area.
Design Programme 1. The Youth House: The Youth House shall have spaces designed to host various cultural activities. We encourage participants to do their own research and provide recommendations for a functional state-of-the-art youth complex.
The following components are non-obligatory. The designers are free to adapt them to their overall design and the other main functions they propose:
Exhibition areas / galleries.
Workshop spaces to host different activities.
Public library (to house print publications and digital).
Small and medium-sized meeting rooms
Large auditorium for lectures, conferences, shows, and film.
Two small cinemas, accommodating 50 and 100 seats.
One story of underground parking.
Cafeterias and one restaurant.
The Youth House grounds should have spaces designed to host cultural activities that are accessible to the public. The grounds should include an outdoor amphitheatre, hardscape (benches, lighting, other creative street furnishing) and softscape. The building itself is to be located in sector 43.
2. The Public Plaza: The public plaza should be fully integrated with the grounds to the Youth House, making both spaces (the plaza and the grounds of Youth House) complementary towards each other, particularly during festivals and public events, and designed to accommodate large public functions.
Together, both will become an iconic landmark in Almedina, not by shape and form alone, but by function first and foremost.
The plaza is to include a simple hardscape (shading, benches, lighting, other creative street furnishing) and softscape. We also recommend that the plaza is to be designed on an ‘urban design’ level rather than a detailed architecture. We encourage participants to treat the plaza with as few above-ground structures as possible.
The public plaza itself is to be located in both sectors.
Things to consider: The proposed site overlooks two commercial streets.
The maximum footprint of the building is defined in the site map. The total built up area is preferably between 10,000 and 15,000 square metres and the total building height should not exceed a maximum of 30 metres.
Schedule 14/January/2020 – Competition launch and early registration
15/October/2020 – Closing date for registrations and submissions
November/2020 – Shortlist Announcement
January/2020 – Announcement of results
(Date to be confirmed) – Annual Tamayouz Excellence Award Ceremony
All Deadlines are 11:59 pm GMT (London)
Registration Early Registration: $70 from 07/January/2020 – 07/April/2020 Standard Registration: $85 from 08/April/2020 – 15/September/2020 Late Registration: $100 from 16/September/2020 – End of registration
Prizes FIRST PLACE WINNER: 6 MONTHS EMPLOYMENT AT DEWAN, RENEWABLE UP TO ONE YEAR OR $6000* (Salary 10,000 AED per Month)
SECOND PLACE WINNER: $3000 + Certificate
THIRD PLACE WINNER: $1000 + Certificate
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Certificate + Invitation to attend the Annual Ceremony
TOP 20 & TOP 50: Published on our website and social media pages
*First prize will be a fully paid employment at Dewan for 6 months expandable to one year supervised by seniors with experience in all departments. If for any reason this cannot be achieved then a sum of $6000 will be presented.