Rifat Chadirji: A Contemporary Regionalist Architect
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Rifat Chadirji: A Contemporary Regionalist Architect

Rifat Chadirji (1926) is an Iraqi architect and author, who was born in Baghdad in 1926. Chadirji studied architecture in England and established his professional practice in Baghdad.

Rifat Chadirji (1926) is an Iraqi architect and author, who was born in Baghdad in 1926. Chadirji studied architecture in England and established his professional practice in Baghdad. For many years, Chadirji taught and lectured in The Baghdad School of Architecture, where he had the opportunity to influence younger generation. He was aware of the traditional settlement patterns of the Arab city in Iraq and employed them to serve contemporary needs. Chadirji devoted his professional life to bring together the culture and traditions of his country with the realities of growing modern technology. He believes that any experiments with traditional building methods are “either naïve or simplistic attempts” to deal with the very complex problems of the future of architecture. He, nevertheless, acknowledges that these experiments could be of some value to the development of regional architecture, although their aesthetic values are at odds with present-day stylistic fashions. Chadirji designed and realized many important and different building types, such as the Hamood Villa, Baghdad, Iraq, 1972, the Public Post office, Baghdad, Iraq, 1975, and the National Insurance Company, 1969, Mosul, Iraq.

Image credit: Hamood Villa, Baghdad, Iraq, 1972

 Image credit:Public Post office, Baghdad, Iraq, 1975

Image credit: National Insurance Company, 1969, Mosul, Iraq

Chadirji’s Tobacco Monopoly Building (1966) in Baghdad is clear evidence of a contemporary Arab architecture (ill. 191). It exhibited a synthesis of international avant-garde concepts and abstract forms derived from his own traditions. For example, Chadirji employed simple projecting m?shr?b?yy?hs made of brick or concrete instead of the expensive wooden ones. He also shaped the walls in cylindrical forms, which are reminiscent of old palaces and fortresses of Iraq. However, Chadirji’s architecture excluded simplistic imitations of traditional features and primitive technologies “because neither is compatible with the fundamental thrust of the mechanical-aesthetic mode”.

Image credit: Offices and Tobacco Warehouses , 1974, Baghdad, Iraq

However, unlike other regionalists architects, Chadirji’s buildings represented an architectural statement to the integration of both regional and modern architecture. the body of his work have shown an understanding of the authentic traditional architecture, and appreciation of modern architecture principles, as well as appeared in a new contemporary idiom. In his forward to Chadirji’s book, Venturi suggests that the architectural analysis of Chadirji “appears applicable in many ways to the rest of the world - to the so-called Western world which is mine, as well as to the so-called developing world which is his”. In 1986, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA), which is an architectural prize established in 1977, awarded Chadirji the prestigious Chairman's Award for his lifetime dedication to reconcile contemporary architectural features with architectural elements of the Islamic cultural heritage. 

References

1. Rifat Chadirji, Concepts and Influences: Towards a Regionalized International Architecture. London, 1986, p. 1, 44, 49, 118-119.

2. http://www.akdn.org/architecture/chairmans_award.asp?tri=1986 (Chadirji phot)

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Comments (10)
Ranked #1 in Architecture

A fascinating synthesis of tradtional and modern, and a brilliantly informative discussion.

Beautiful...voted

stellar article and great pictures

I admire anyone devoted to a specific goal such as Rifat was described so well by you.

Ranked #11 in Architecture

Great writing from your expertise Sir.

Thank you everyone for your kind and thoughtful comments.much appreciate

Another brilliant piece of work.

What can I say - as good as usual.

Excellent share...not surprised> Another well-written nicely executed article. Great pics. Thanks for sharing Voted up

Wonderful work of art! Voted...

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