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.
Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji built his personal residence in Taha Street of the Waziriyya District of Baghdad. The project dates to 1954, toward the beginning of the architect's career, and reflects many of his design principles and architectural interests on a smaller, more personal scale.
Stables occupied the lot on which the house was constructed. The modest dimensions of the lot put some constraints on the size of the house, whose floor plan maximizes efficiency by omitting hallways. Like many of Chadirji's houses, he designed his home to incorporate the surrounding garden through large windows, covered porches, and patios. These transitional spaces are modern versions of ideas present in the traditional domestic architecture of Iraq, namely arcaded courtyards that formed the center of many large homes.1
The house's plan is simple. The heart of the house is a covered T-shaped block: the central wing of the T comprises a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Surrounding this wing is a semi-outdoor space including a covered porch with a screened wall facing the house's garden, and two side patios covered by arbors. The house's other two side wings are occupied by an office and a bedroom. The office has a large window overlooking one of the trellised patios and the bedroom has a window and double door opening onto the other patio.