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 Iraq Scientific Academy Building houses the institution of the same name, which was founded in 1948 to promote and regulate the modern Arabic language. The building was constructed by Rifat Chadirji in 1965 in the Najib Pasha neighborhood of Baghdad. The building is exemplary of the architect's modern Iraqi style, blending elements of international Modernism with regional traditions.
The building is composed of two blocks, each rising two stories high. The block on the northwest side, a rectangle oriented northeast to southwest, is largely devoid of windows or other apertures on its front and back facades. Its long, side facade (facing northeast) is fronted with a riwaq, or covered passageway rising to the level of the roof and communicating with the exterior through two sets of three tall archways. The block on the southeast side of the building is roughly square. Its front and back facades (facing northeast and southwest) have a row of six large french windows surmounted by smaller windows on the second story and framed by projecting arches. This block's side facade (facing southeast) is also fronted by a riwaq. Separating these two blocks are the building's main portals (one on the northeast or front facade and one on the southwest or back facade). These portals are framed with a rectangular projection creating an iwan-like space.
Entering the building through either portal, visitors step onto a large corridor separating the building's two blocks, which house different functions. The block on the building's northwest side contains assembly halls on its front end and service areas in the back. The block on the southeast side of the building houses the book stacks of the academy's library and a large reading room on its back end, and smaller, private reading rooms and the office of the library director on its front end.
The second story is accessible via two staircases, one in each of the two blocks described above. The upper floor of the northwestern block houses the president's offices on the back end and administrative offices on the front. These are separated by a broad middle corridor. On the southeastern side, the staircase leads onto a second-story reading room and rare book storage in the center of the building, which are flanked on either side by small offices for members of the academy. These offices enjoy views toward the front and back of the building through the second story windows housed within the projecting archways described above.
Al-Sulṭānī, Khālid. Rif‘at al-Jādirjī: mi‘mār, 274-278.Amman: Adib Books, 2016.