1.2 Comparison between traditional Baghdad houses and housing prototype by Doxiadis Associates – From housing to city

It is worthy to investigate into the traditional housing in Baghdad and also the standardized housing prototype by Doxiadis Associates, as there existed a direct and intimate contribution by the smaller scale housing design to the larger Baghdad city planning. This helps revealing a bigger picture of the city and also the misinterpretation or even unawareness of Doxiadis Associates on Baghdad’s social, ethnic and climatic formations.

 

The urban planning of Baghdad at the time when Doxiadis Associates stepped in could be traced back to the period of 1930s and 1950s, when foreign planners Bereck and Bronoweinever from Berlin and British firm Miniprio, Spencerly and Macfarlane laid out Baghdad’s planning consecutively. They focused mainly on transportation network and land use at that time, therefore to a great extend the city grew on its own naturally. (Al-Akkam, 2012) The result was clear as viewing from the top, Baghdad’s urban area was filled with courtyard houses packed closely together. There was no clear grid organization but rather irregular or organic way of dividing the land. However, as most of the houses were courtyard house type and dwellers obeyed moral code “Turf” that guided the design of their houses. As a result, the urban appearance and experience of Baghdad at that time could be treated as a compilation of similar houses. (Abu-Lughod, 1987)

 

Coincidently, Doxiadis Associates approach to Baghdad’s plan can be treated as an articulation from small scale construction as housing unit, to a district, then to a city, and ultimately to ecumenopolis. This flow of building the mega world-city followed Doxiadis Ekistics Logarithmic scale. (Doxiadis, 1970) Therefore, housing units contributed to building a city closely under Doxiadis point of view. Doxiadis Associates made this strategy clear when designing Baghdad’s comprehensive plan: from design housing type, which were bundled together to form a “dwelling group” with the “gossip square”. Dwelling groups were then grouped together to form villages with elementary school. Villages of different social hierarchies were then to form a neighborhood, which could be referred to West Baghdad housing plan as an example of one to two thousand dwellers. (Doxiaids, 1959)

 

The underlying constrain to traditional urban fabric in Baghdad was moral code, while that for Doxiadis Associates’ proposal was based on Ekistics.1 Although Doxiadis Associates had studied local’s social and climatic conditions to fine-tune Ekistics design approach, there were still flaws in execution.2

 

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1 Please refer to “1.0 Ekistics and Dynapolis”

2 Please refer to “1.2 Comparison between traditional Baghdad houses and housing prototype by Doxiadis Associates – Privacy and separation between men and women”, “1.3 Comparison between traditional Baghdad houses and housing prototype by Doxiadis Associates – Privacy and separation between men and women”

 

Reference:

Al-Akkam, A. (2012). Towards Environmentally Sustainable Urban Regeneration: A Framework for Baghdad City Centre. Journal of Sustainable Development, 5(9), p.61.

Abu-Lughod, J. (1987). The Islamic City–Historic Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 19(2), p.164.

 

Doxiadis, C. (1970). Ekistics, the Science of Human Settlements. Science, 170(3956), pp.393-40.

 

Doxiaids, C. (1959). Iraq Housing Program. DA Pamphlet, (5).

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