- Architect In Charge : ZRS Architekten Ingenieure in cooperation with TU-Berlin
- Landscape Design : Gesa Diering
- Local Engineer : Kameran Mustapha Mohammed
- Project Partner And Master Thesis Project Supervision : Fachgebiet Entwerfen, Baukonstruktion, Ralf Pasel
- Master Thesis Project Supervision : Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Fachgebiet Landschaftsarchitektur.Freiraumplanung, TU Berlin, Bernd Rudolf, Undine Giseke
- Client : Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights
- Sponsors : Misereor, Stiftung Wings of Hope, Ein Herz für Kinder
- City : Chamchamal
- Country : Iraq
Text description provided by the architects. The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights has opened a new centre for animal-assisted trauma therapy in Chamchamal, Kurdistan-Iraq. The centre is the first step in the realisation of the Jiyan Healing Garden on a 35,000 m2 site in Chamchamal. The various ethnic minorities and Kurdish majority of the Kurdistan autonomous region have been victims of oppression and violence for centuries, suffering most recently at the hands of ISIS and before that regime of Sadam Hussein. Over the last few years many minorities such as the Yazidis have fled to the region before the violence being perpetrated by ISIS throughout northern Iraq. The importance of a functioning mechanism for trauma therapy has become of huge importance for the region as research indicates that without therapeutic treatment, it can take up to three generations for victims to recover from a traumatic experience.
The Healing Garden will be developed and realised in stages over the coming years. A reinterpretation of traditional village architecture and the use of local materials, plants and animals should contribute to the creation of a space that represents trust, identity and healing. The recently completed first phase houses the animal assisted therapy spaces, where encounters between humans and animals can take place in a familiar and relaxed atmosphere. The ensemble of eleven simple earthen volumes are arranged around a series of courtyards creating a village style atmosphere. A light shading roof connects the different volumes and allows users to traverse the site in comfort throughout the year, especially during the height of summer when temperatures can reach upwards of 45o.
The buildings are constructed using sustainable, local materials such as earth, timber and bricks. Massive walls in air-dried earth bricks and a thin layer of earth-straw mixture on the roof serve to maintain a comfortable interior temperature during the hot summer as well as the damp winter months. Over the last ten years the vernacular Architecture has been largely displaced by reinforced concrete constructions, so much so that an appreciation for a traditional Kurdish Architecture has been dangerously eroded. In many places traditional natural materials and typologies have been replaced with generic cement based concrete frame construction, despite the fact that cement based materials cannot offer the same climate controlling properties as earthen materials. Through the use of traditional materials in an earthquake resistant structural system and a training program for local workers, the construction of the Healing Garden has strengthened Kurdish building traditions and suggests a direction for the future development of earthen architecture in the region.
Currently the second building phase, composed of therapy spaces and a bakery is being planned. A water treatment plant is currently under construction, which will clean the water of the many sewage pipes that traverse the site to provide water for the plants of the Healing Garden.