1.5 Imposition of Doxiadis’ plan in Baghdad

Although due to the coup in 1959, Doxiadis’ firm was forced out of Iraq and his plan for Baghdad was never fully carried out, the plan was partially implemented in western. The imposition of Doxiadis plan on Baghdad is in two scales, the larger scale regards the city as a whole and the smaller scale focuses on the interrelationship of the residents in the city.

Dynapolis, meaning a “dynamic” city, is a concept proposed by Doxiadis. A dynapolis is a city continuously develop along an axis; in the case of Baghdad, Tigris River is set as a reference to establish the axis of the city to grow where Doxiadis limited the growth of the city to an ideal number of three million residents. Although Doxiadis’ proposed number of residents of Baghdad is proven failed as Baghdad was later housed much more people that predicted, the Doxiadis Associates developed northern east side of Baghdad initiated the expansion of the rectilinear city.

Doxiadis plan for Baghdad (Fig.2) is based on the principal of Ekistics, which means the science of human settlements. He argued that human settlements were no longer satisfactory for their inhabitants (Doxiadis, 1968). And the contemporary urban areas were having crowded and noisy cities that have adverse impacts on both the natural environment and social life due to the imbalance between the different components of these urban areas. In order to solve the problem, he believed that key is to have control over the urban growth and its future development. Thus, sectoring is the method (Fig.3) that Doxiadis adopted in handling the city control. Sectors and units on the sectors are designed according to the classes and their incomes, where middle class is put in between the high-income class and low-income class to separate direct contact between them; sometimes green zones are also placed as soft barriers between the classes (Fig.4).

In west Baghdad, Doxiadis Associates also completed the construction of many of their prototyped housing units before they were out of the city. These houses, together, still illustrating Doxiadis’ idea of the master plan of Baghdad. Resembling the northern east part of Baghdad, these built houses in the west of the city set a model for modernisation in Baghdad.

Another reason that Doxiadis’ plan stood out among the others besides his notion of Ekistics is his sensitivity towards the local culture of Baghdad. Doxiadis was confident and promised that “his firm would overcome the functionalist, universalist, and ultimately eurocentric and homogenizing preoccupations of other modernist interventions by embarking on exhaustive surveys and research programs that would identify each locale’s specific needs and potentials” (Pyla, Back to the Future: Doxiadis’s Plans for Baghdad, 2008). He fulfilled his promise by the means of setting up “gossip squares” (Fig.5) to resemble the traditional gathering zones in tribes and villages for the neighbourhood in every ten to fifteen houses. Moreover, the inclusion of hammas and mosques in each community section is also a gesture showing his understanding of the culture of Baghdad. The prototyped housing (Fig.6) that his firm proposed, however, failed to integrate with the local climate and did not capture the essence of traditional house as the courtyard that is located at the central of the house, is pushed to the side or at the back, thus losing the quality of spatial hierarchy within the unit and does not help with easing the climate (Fig.7).


Fig 1. Map of Baghdad ©1957, Map and Geography Library, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign



Fig 2. Doxiadis Associates, The Master Plan for Baghdad, Iraq © 1958, Doxiadis Associates, “Progress of the Housing Program,” (May 1959), cover



Fig 3. Plan of Community Sector in West Baghdad © Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Human sector in Western Baghdad, Slides/9332


Fig 4. Model of Community Sector in West Baghdad © Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Western Baghdad, Sector 10, Slides/9601


Fig 5. Gossip Square in Baghdad ©1958, Ekistics (June 1958), 281


Fig 6. House Types in West Baghdad © Doxiadis Associates, The Housing Program of Iraq (Baghdad, 1957), Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Archive Files/25319



Fig 7. Doxiadis Associates, Upper-Income Housing in West Baghdad © [Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Architectural Design: DA Profile, Archive Files/35839



  1. Pyla, P. (2008). Back to the Future: Doxiadis’s Plans for Baghdad. Journal of Planning History, 3-19.
  2. Theodosis, Lefteris. “”Containing” Baghdad: Constanitnos Doxiadis’ Program for a Developing Nation.” 2008.
  3. Elsheshtawy, Yasser. Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Urban Kaleidoscope in a Globalizing World. London: Routledge, 2004.
  4. Isenstadt, Sandy. Modernism and the Middle East Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.





1 Comment on “1.5 Imposition of Doxiadis’ plan in Baghdad

  1. The diagrams are quite wonderful. It is important to see the relevance of Dynapolis in direct relation to Baghdad, while you expound on the ideas behind them. For example, which of the ideas came first? Did one commissioned plan or feasibility study shape the thesis, or vice versa? It’ll be very interesting to understand praxis versus theory, and the honing of an idea through built experiments. In a sense, this actively describes how Doxiadis developed his ideas. Were there eventually revisionist ideas to the original thesis about cities? Through a tight and well-contained study of a particular project and period, one would be able to deduce how ideas took shape.

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