1.4 Comparison between traditional Baghdad houses and housing prototype by Doxiadis Associates – Local climate and construction

Apart from the issue of unaware of ethnic tradition, the failure to deal with climate condition in Baghdad also revealed the lack of sensitive to local condition by Doxiadis Associates. Traditional houses in Baghdad emphasized much on the inner courtyard, which not only functioned as communication hub but also a vertical vent that mediated the temperature differences across levels and rooms, which could ranged from 2oC to 50oC in extreme cases. (Warren and Fethi, 1982) Doxiadis Associates indeed did survey on climatic condition in Baghdad, yet their final design of the standardized housing pushed the courtyard to the peripheral of the plot, which lost the function of creating microclimate for the house. (Doxiadis, 1958)

 

During 1960s, there was a gap in advancement between the West and the East in terms of construction material usage and technology. Until the end of the nineteenth century, houses in Baghdad was built by kiln-burned brick and timber essentially, which were either locally available or import from nearby countries. (Warren and Fethi, 1982) Doxiadis had strong belief in standardization in construction, who justified indirectly the possibility of this new concept in Middle East by raising examples like God statues produced in India and wooden window frames in Pakistan. (Doxiadis, 1968) Doxiadis noticed the difference in resources available in Baghdad to that of the West in terms of material and manpower, therefore tested out the possibility of mixing mud and cement or clay and cement to replace the traditional mud brick. To deal with scarce labor and training, Doxiadis adopted the on-the-job training method. (UNESCO, 1947) There was definitely an effort to create a possible and seamless construction process, yet some standardized parts still underperformed like the reinterpreted screening devices by using wooden window screens with reinforced concrete, which failed to ease the climatic issues. (Doxiadis, 1958)

 

 

Reference:

 

Warren, J. and Fethi, I. (1982). Traditional house in Baghdad. England: Coach Publishing House Ltd.

 

Doxiadis, C. (1958). A Regional Development Program for Greoter Mussayib, Iraq, 1958. Ekistic, 6(36), pp.149-186.

 

Doxiadis, C. (1968). Architecture in Transition. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

UNESCO, (1947). Report of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Commission. UNESCO.

 

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