0.1 Political Context of Baghdad from 1950 to 1965 and their Effects on Planning Decisions

0.1 Political Context of Baghdad from 1950 to 1965 and their effects on Planning Decisions

 

Baghdad was occupied by the British during world war one, and the country was then handed over to King Fiscal II, who was appointed by the British to success their rule in Iraq. This rule went on until the rise of the USSR and the WWII, where the whole middle east region is stuck in between the capitalists (the west) and the socialists (the east) and had become an ideological battlefield1. In 1929, however, the uprising in Egypt had reminded the west and Iraq that there is a chance of revolution. To prevent that from happening, King fiscal the second, the ruler of Iraq has turned to architecture and planning for help. He believed that through building a more organized environment and better architecture, social stability could be achieved.2

The regime of Iraq, who is closer to the west than the east, discovered oil in their country and therefore became rich.3 The country had since then appointed numerous international architects and planners to modernize the city. This includes architects such as Le Corbusier to design the stadium, TAC (The Architect’s Collaborative, headed by Walter Gropius) to design the main street, Frank Lloyd wright, and Constantinos Doxiadis to re-plan a housing district, and later, the whole city. It was said that the decision to choose Doxiadis, a less well known planner compared to the likes of Corbusier and Gropius, was because Doxiadis was from Greek, a peripheral country in the western world, and that would be less likely to provoke the nationalists in Iraq. Moreover, Doxiadis differentiated his theory from others by his principles of ekistics. 4

However, according to Boyer, Doxiadis, although a Greek, was secretly employed by the US to survey on the Islamic world using his ekistics as a cover, providing a stipend of 3 million US dollars through ford to help him carry out his research. Although in the end Doxiadis did not carry out the survey satisfactorily, his engagement with the US became skeptical to the people in his home country.5

Iraqs commissions towards the international architects was short lived because of the revolution in 1958, which turned the country from a monarchy to a republic.6 The more Islam inspired and nationalistic Regime allowed Doxiadis to work on his project but appointed Chadirji , a local Iraqi architect to work with him. However, the ideologies of Chadirji and Doxiadis were hugely different: Chadirji aimed to create architectures that could represent Iraq, while doxiadis was a modernist at heart. The clash between the two had led to the regime’s decision to expel Doxiadis from his duties, and commissioned Chadirji as the consultant from 1959 onward.7

 

Footnotes

  1. “Visions of Iraq: Modernizing the Past in 1950s Baghdad.” In Modernism and the Middle East Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Sandy Isenstadt, by Magnus Bernhardsson, 83-85. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. “Rebuilding Iraq 1955-58 : Modernist Housing, National Aspirations, and Global Ambitions.” Docomomo Journal, no. 35 (2006): 71-77.
  5. Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw,. 2010. Adventures On Baghdad: Constantinos A. Doxiadis, The Science Of Ekistics And Cold War Politic. Video. https://vimeo.com/17431716.
  6. “Visions of Iraq: Modernizing the Past in 1950s Baghdad.” In Modernism and the Middle East Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Sandy Isenstadt, by Magnus Bernhardsson, 83-85. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.
  7. “Baghdad’s Urban Restructuring, 1958 : Aesthetics and Politics of Nation Building.” In Modernism and the Middle East Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Sandy Isenstadt, by Panayiota Pyla, 97-115. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.

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