Infrastructural impact of the walls – Development Within Zones

Several years after the walls were built, the needs of residents have forced the people to develop within their own security zones. It may become the resolution for the citizens to get out of prolonged frustration.


It is mercy that the only thing that the US government did was to divide the city into zones by building walls and setting up security checkpoints only, which they did not interfere with the activities within zones and thus posing a potential for the residents to adapt to the zoning system.


-Businesses of Baghdad are relocated. Due to the low accessibility to places, many shops lost customers and employees, thus encouraged the relocation. Light industries such as textile manufacturing, consumer electronics and home appliances were relocated from designated industrial regions to the margin of the residential areas of different zones, so that they could be reachable to the residents once again(Planning in Baghdad: how years of conflict have shaped the design of the city, 2015).


-New neighbourhood market emerged. With all the traffic and security checkpoints, it took hours for goods like food and

New neighbourhood market (Anon, 2010)

clothes to be delivered to different security zones daily. Therefore the supplies of such daily necessities became less and led to a general rise of prices. Under this circumstance, new neighbourhood markets have been popping up in zones, providing the goods for the residents’ daily needs. Some goods were delivered to the market in a desirable quantity that was adequate until the next batch of delivery, and some were manufactured locally. Such markets were successful for they satisfied people’s needs with a suitable price(Planning, 2015).


-The trend of urban farming had been rising. Also resulted from the limited supplies, the residents chose to farm on their own instead. On roofs and road edges and wherever they could, they grew their own crops; some even brought livestock like pigs, cows and goats from outside. The harvest of crops and livestock were for both self-consumption and selling to the market(Planning, 2015).


The above behaviours suggested hope for Baghdad. With the zoning system implemented, the city had suffered in different ways, with the poverty problem being the most severe. Such urbanistic behaviours were bringing positive impact to the situation bit by bit. The extend for now is certainty not enough to change the entire city, but when these trends keep on rising, more people will enjoy the benefits brought the in-zone development. Moreover, when the citizens start to gain stable income for a living, other development may subsequently happen such as building of infrastructures and creating public space for events or activities. Ideally speaking, Baghdad will become a combination of self-sufficient, autonomous urban villages.


It is interesting that the implementation of walls actually brought some urban development to the Baghdad. The past four narratives were reflecting how the walls destruct the original urban planning of the city and how different issues have formed because of it. But when the residents adapt to the extremely bad living condition, they make something out of it in order to tackle the problems. This is down to the human nature of survival perhaps. I am not saying that the building of walls was certainly bettering the urban condition of Baghdad, but it does remind me of the Great Chicago Fire—how destruction poses potentials for future development.



Anon, (2011). [image] Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2017].


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

1 Comment on “Infrastructural impact of the walls – Development Within Zones

  1. It is indeed thought provoking to see the positive adaptation from the residents of Baghdad on a top-down approach of the wall. Often, when facing adversity or a crisis, architecture is always a solution to impose order back to the society. Whether is it a formal or informal approach, crisis is often associate with emergence of new architectural forms that pose changes to the society.

    In the case of Baghdad, several vernacular approaches were mentioned like the new neighbourhood markets as well as urban farming. The idea of urban farming is in particular interesting to see. The expansion of farming onto roofs and road is a creative adaptation on the change in urban fabric while sustaining their own life. Vernacular means of architectural adaption as such should be studied thoroughly as they can be a solution to the ever changing urban fabric.

    New forms of architecture always emerge from crisis, and thus it is the role of architects and designer to be versatile and observant. Thus creating contemporary solutions to the ever-changing society.

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