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 site for this new city of one million inhabitants stretches along the Khor Abdallah inlet connecting Basra to the Gulf. The landscape master plan builds on the site ecology (a third of the site area is an estuarine sabkha and tidal flatlands), that is protected as a natural heritage and wildlife habitat. A network of green areas is proposed that includes neighborhood, community, district and city parks and sports serviced by cycling paths and navigable canals that connect the Khor Abdallah with the protected wetland landscape. The landscape vocabulary is sustainable environmentally, rooted in the distinct character of rural south Iraq with date palm orchards in the core and xeric landscapes at the peripheries.