Dr Jala Makhzoumi is an Iraqi architect and academic who specialises in landscape design, she taught architecture and landscape at the University of Technology in Baghdad for 15 years.Jala studied architecture in the University of Baghdad from 1971. She received her Master in Environmental Design from Yale University and a PhD in landscape architecture from Sheffield University. Her expertise is in ecological landscape design and planning where she applies a holistic, developmental approach to mediate community needs with ecosystem health, biodiversity protection and landscape heritage conservation. Her professional and academic expertise includes postwar recovery, energy efficient site planning and sustainable urban greening. She has served as landscape planning consultant to the Damascus master plan 2030, Saida Urban Sustainable Development Strategy 2015, Baghdad Comprehensive City Development Plan 2030 and the conservation and revitalization of the historic holy towns of Kadhimia and Najaf. In 2013 Jala co-established UNIT44, a Lebanon based design and planning practice offering a wide range of services in architecture, landscape architecture, ecological planning and urban design.
The citadel town of Erbil (circa 6000 BC), capital of the Kurdish Regional Authority, straddles Iraq’s western desert and foothills of the Kurdistan. Outside the municipal limits the landscap is typically rural, hilly with small impoverished villages that subsist on arable, rain-fed farming and herding. A network of larger and smaller watercourses traverse the site.
The Erbil Inner Greenbelt was proposed to contain urban sprawl and unregulated urban development, improve the urban microclimate and serve as an amenity landscape for the one million urban inhabitants. Working with an interdisciplinary team of planers, hydrologists and engineers, an ecological landscape planning methodology was applied to secure a holistic reading of the site and develop a master plan that is community inclusive, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible.
The multifunctional landscape for the Erbil Greenbelt includes: a productive zone of environmentally sustainable agriculture, mainly fruit tree cultivation; a nature conservation zone with wooded areas and pastoral lands; northern and southern greenways that ensure ecological and social connectivity; a predominantly amenity zone that includes the landscape of ring road 8 and three gateway parks.