Infrastructural impact of the walls – Roads and Traffic

The walls intersected the road and interfered the whole urban planning, bringing inconvenience to the citizens.


The original urban planning was almost gone completely after the walls had been erected.

Mapping of Walls
(IOM, 2010)

Before 2003, a network of paths tied the people of Baghdad together, there were main routes connecting them from east to west, north to south(Urban baghdad: Impact of Conflict on Daily Life, 2011). One could drive through the whole city with ease, and accessing different places was never a problem. Then the Americans established the ‘3 meters tall protection’ for the citizens. The walled Green Zone blocked the main routes in the middle of Baghdad; other walls divided the city into different zones and blocked the vehicles from entering to one another. The fragments of roads were then seriously congested due to one single entrance to another zone. One could then spend three hours or more just for traveling 20km, going through all the security checks between zones and finding other taxis in the other zones (Planning in Baghdad: how years of conflict have shaped the design of the city, 2015). People had difficulties going to work, school or even the hospital, causing them to lose jobs, not receiving education and die respectively.

Blast Wall separating zones. (Anon, 2016)


The importance of roads and paths in urban planning has immediately become very visible. In modern urban planning, words like ‘speed’ and ‘efficiency’ often came into light and they were usually referring the road system. A grid-like road system was ubiquitous in modernist’s theory because of its capability to provide speed and efficiency; one can surf through the city travelling along the grid, choosing the quickest route to access to different zones. The avenue and street of New York Manhattan is an excellent example to show such effectiveness of a grid-like road planning(Lynch, 2008). With walls intersecting and blocking the roads of Baghdad, it simply disabled the function of roads thus restricting the mobility of people. It is in fact worse than a city completely without urban planning because the resident had got use to travelling around Baghdad for their daily lives. But then within three years (2004-2007), the walls were built and they could no longer maintain their original ways of living with extremely long travelling time. The solution was not to go to different zones if the zones could self-sustain. However the establishment of the security walls was too quick for the people to react and numerous problems popped out such as lack of supplies, civil services, schools, and offices.


Some residents of accused the American Army. They thought the planning of the Wall neglected the original urban planning therefore brought a vast number of issues. However in my opinion, it depends on how the citizens value ‘survive’ and ‘live’. I agree that travelling more than 6 hours a day is not humane at all and the US Army could leave the main road system untouched and let them maintain their way of transporting before 2003. But then if the people were still able to travel through the whole city without any security checks, the extreme activists of Sunni and Shia may have gone to the opposite zone and planted car bombs.



Anon, (2016). [image] Available at:–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAwO2lsPXBsYW5l/ [Accessed 12 Dec. 2017].

Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, Baghdad Governorate Profile (2011)

Lynch, K. (2008). The image of the city. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: M.I.T. Press, p.24.

Planning in Baghdad: how years of conflict have shaped the design of the city. (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Dec. 2017]

Urban baghdad: Impact of Conflict on Daily Life. (2011). [online] Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, p.1. Available at: [Accessed 12 Dec. 2017].



1 Comment on “Infrastructural impact of the walls – Roads and Traffic

  1. The Baghdad Wall was an add on element in the existing Baghdad urban planning. The wall acts as a separation with no consideration on how the city should connect and promote continuity as a whole. As we learnt examples and utopia theory in class, architectural and urban planning aimed for the well being of the people as well as the society. Baghdad has illustrated an contrasting example on how architecture can cause disruption to human life when it has little consideration on the well being of the inhabitants on the first place. The heavily congested roads and segregated and extensive pathways are surely hindering mobility within the city. How should architecture participate to alleviate the problems arisen from the political tension of the wall? Considering the political tension couldn’t be resolved in a short period of time, is there intervention that could possibly link up the divided zone that is only for the sake of the mobility of the inhabitants?

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