Rifat Chadirji is an architect who has imbued his work with a deep understanding of the roots of authentic regional expression, as well as a true appreciation of modernism and its principles. Chadirji has shown a unique capacity for the synthesis of form and function that translates traditional architectural idioms into contemporary expressions.
Chadirji's contributions transcend a mere body of work, important as that may be, for he also is a major figure in one of the most important and influential architectural schools in the Arab world. The Baghdad School of Architecture, where Chadirji taught for many years, has keenly felt Chadirji's influence. Rejecting the use of the forms of the past, Chadirji devised a synthesis of form that could translate into a new and contemporary urban aesthetic -- one that would guide the articulations of a genuinely modern Iraqi town-scape in the latter part of the 20th century.
"I set out to learn from traditional architecture and to achieve a synthesis between traditional forms and inevitable advent of modern technology. My aim was to create an architecture which at once acknowledges the place in which it is built, yet which sacrifices nothing to modern technical capability. At the same time I was concerned to understand analytically the reasoning behind traditional devices of environmental control such as courtyards, screen walls, natural ventilation, and reflected light."
In 2015, Chadirji was awarded the Tamayouz Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that celebrates the pioneers of Iraqi architecture and is "presented annually to an individual who has had a significant contribution towards the advancement of architecture in Iraq." In November of the same year (2015), Rifat Chadirji was presented with an honorary doctorate from Coventry University inn the UK.
Bazarov, Konstantin. "Rifat Chadirji." Contemporary Architects, 163. Chicago: St. James Press, 1987.
The Corbachi Building is a mixed-use residential structure located on Shaykh Umar Street in the the Kamp al-Arman neighborhood of Baghdad. Rifat Chadirji designed the building just after graduating from architecture school in London in 1952. The building, which combines commercial space and ample residential apartments within a compact cube, draws inspiration in part from Le Corbusier's residential buildings like the Unité d'habitation in Marseille.
The building is a square block rising three stories. The first story is dedicated to commercial usage while the second and third stories are residential. The building's main facade faces Shaykh Umar Street. On the ground floor, the corners of this facade are edged off to create angles. Between these edged corners, a central portal is flanked by four shop openings on each side, all equipped with roll-up doors and a window above the opening. The upper portion of the main facade is a blank wall except for a large vertical aperture at the center, which serves as the balcony of the building's central corridor (an "interior street") onto which the residential apartments open.1 Flanking this aperture are two long, narrow windows with brick screens. The side facades are occupied by shops opening to the street on the ground floor. The upper stories on the sides of the building are balconies for the residential apartments.
The ground floor houses forty-seven shop spaces. Twenty seven shops line the perimeter of the building. These are open to the surrounding streets on three sides of the building through roll-up doors that can be closed during off hours. Occupying the center of the building are two blocks of back-to-back shop spaces, each five long, for a total of twenty additional shop spaces. Access to the interior is through a portal at the center of the main street facade, which leads onto a central corridor dividing the two blocks of interior shop spaces. Side corridors give access to the perimeter shops from the inside.
Two staircases located at the back ends of the building's two sides, accessible from the street, lead to the first residential floor. The staircases end on the large central corridor that is open through balconies on the building's front and back. Five apartments line each side of this corridor, for a total of ten apartments. The apartments are two stories high, with reception areas and kitchens on the first floor, as well as balconies on the ends that open onto the sides of the building. The upper floors have two bedrooms and a bathroom. Finally, each apartment has a private roof terrace with a storage area, laundry facilities, and another restroom.
Pieri, Bagdad, 319.
Pieri, Caecilia. Bagdad: La construction d’une capitale moderne (1914-1960). Beirut: Presses de l’ifpo, 2015.
Al-Sultany, Khaled. Rif‘at al-Jādirjī: mi‘mār, 132. Amman: Adib Books, 2016.
بناية الجوربه جي (Original)
Bināya al-Jurbah’jī (Transliterated)
Jurbah'ji Building (Translated)
بناية الچوربه چی (Alternate)
Bināya al-Churbah’chī (Transliterated)
Chorbachi Building (Translated)
سوق الچربه چِي (Alternate)
Suq al-Churbah'chi (Transliterated)
Suq al-Churbachi (Alternate transliteration)
Suq al-Corbachi (Alternate transliteration)
Corbachi Suq (Translated)
Shaykh Umar Street, Kamp al-Arman District, Baghdad, Baghdad Governorate, Baghdad Governorate