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Dewan wins Baghdad Municipality design contest

UAE firm's design forms basis for redevelopment of Al Kadhimiya area

Dewan's design was deemed most sensitive to the area's historical, cultural and social character.
Dewan's design was deemed most sensitive to the area's historical, cultural and social character.

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Dewan Architects & Engineers has submitted the winning design for the development of the holy shrines area in Al Kadhimiya, Baghdad.

A jury decided that Dewan’s proposal, one of 10 shortlisted submissions, was the most aesthetically pleasing and sensitive to the area’s historical, cultural and social character.

“The strategic concern of our design was to find methods to adapt the area to contemporary demands without damaging the spiritual legacy contained in its surviving historic structures,” said Mohamed Al Assam, founder, chairman and MD of Dewan.

“The development needs to be manoeuvred in such a way that the place does not lose its soul and this was one of our most important considerations throughout the design process.”

“Another consideration was that during seasonal religious ceremonies and festivities, the area of Al Kadhimiya receives large numbers of visitors. It is critical that the urban fabric can cope with exceptional demands during such peak periods, and it is equally as essential to ensure that it can remain lively and attractive for residents throughout the year.”

Explaining the vision behind Dewan’s winning design, Al Assam said: “The final design we submitted envisions the shrine as the innermost ‘kernel’ of the city, enveloped and protected by different urban layers that mediate between the interior and the exterior world and together form a coherent whole.

“The inner urban layer includes important elements of the historic urban fabric, which will be upgraded, renovated and substituted on a plot-by-plot basis according to information to be collected in the future, with the aim of retaining the scale and the main characteristics of historic Baghdad. Other, more peripheral layers introduce contemporary residential structures that cater for modern needs of vehicular accessibility, public facilities and commercial functions.”

Dewan Architects & Engineers is a regional architectural and engineering design firm with offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, and Philippines. The firm was recently ranked the 60th largest architectural firm in the world, and the fifth largest in the region, in Building Design Magazine’s recent annual ‘World Architecture Top 100’.

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