T-Wall Housing / New World Design LLC

Construction Diagram

Turning an element synonymous with security in into a method for constructing affordable housing, New World Design LLC has shared with us their T-Wall Housing proposal for Al Qurnah, Basrah, Iraq. Follow after the jump for further images and a description from the architects.


The T-wall—a freestanding precast concrete panel with a footing cast into the base—is perhaps the most ubiquitous architectural element in Iraq’s security landscape.  Used to create barricades around secure military zones, T-walls are scattered across the country by the millions, and as American forces draw down their forward operating bases in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of these T-walls will be either discarded or crushed.  Due to their steel reinforcing, most T-walls will be banished to so-called T-wall graveyards, to be stored for an indeterminate amount of time for an undetermined purpose.

Courtesy New World Design LLC

Rather than waste these materials, which are strong enough to serve as structural members for low-rise construction, this project intends to use them to address one of the most pressing socioeconomic problems facing post-war Iraq: the housing shortage.  Millions of Iraqi families are currently without housing, and by repurposing the orphaned T-walls to construct rapidly assembled, high-quality, low-cost housing, this project has the potential to transform one of the most omnipresent visual symbols of the occupation into physical spaces of hope and rebirth for the people of Iraq.

Courtesy New World Design LLC

The design of each house emerges from a careful study of traditional Iraqi dwelling patterns while capitalizing on its urban configuration.  All the homes feature a traditional forecourt, which projects a sense of dignity for visitors and homeowners alike, and each L-shaped house is coupled with its neighbor to form an internal courtyard where children can safely play and women can freely interact with each other.  By coupling the homes, it is also possible to combine housing units for large and extended families, which are common throughout Iraq.

Courtesy New World Design LLC

The interiors of the homes are organized in order to segregate public and private spaces, with the dinning and kitchen area acting as a hinge between the two zones.  To minimize the costs of heating and cooling, careful measures have been taken to maximize both the thermal massing properties of the T-walls (each T-wall has a potential R-value of 14, analogous to a conventional CMU cavity wall) and the natural ventilation of the spaces.  The design of each home incorporates a large, double-height wind tower—a traditional design found on indigenous buildings throughout the Middle East—over the front sitting room, which dramatically improves the home’s ventilation and imparts a sense of grandeur to the public sitting room while recalling traditional Arabic building typologies on the exterior.

Wall Plan

Architects: New World Design LLC
Location: Al Qurnah, Basrah, Iraq
Architect in charge: Jeffrey Olinger
Size: 150 sqm per unit, 10 units total
Year: 2010

Cite: Jarz, Hank. "T-Wall Housing / New World Design LLC" 30 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=107019>
  • http://www.garygrant.me Gary Grant

    Where are the PVs, green roofs and trees?

  • kwenvy

    This kind of project reminds me of some of the essential reasons for which archtecture exists. Well done!

  • mr T

    whatever. go home.

  • nxs

    Awesome. First bomb the country to the ground, then go and propose “a new and revolutionary dwelling” to your own victims. I think allowing american firms to tinker and propose these kind of projects is, at least, a sad joke.

  • Ilya

    Listen, American Architects didn’t start this war, but the question is why does affordable housing has to be so generic and standardized. This proposal just looks like something the army would build. I think people are tired of army and war. Why not something playful and engaging?

    • “This proposal just looks like something the army would build.” – New World Design for New World Order :) barracks for all

  • alireza naeimi

    Dear manager
    I’m living in Iran.
    I’m willing to be a branch of new building materials in Iran
    Please contact me if possible
    Alireza naeimi