Iraqi Architect Rifat Chadirji Dies at 93 after Contracting the Coronavirus

Father of Iraqi architecture Rifat Chadirji has passed away at 93, on April 10 in London, after contracting the novel coronavirus. Born in 1926 in Baghdad, he is responsible for more than 100 buildings across Iraq.

Some of his most iconic works include the Tahrir Square's Freedom Monument, the Tobacco Monopoly Headquarters in 1965, the Central Post Office in Baghdad in 1975 and the Unknown Soldier Monument, one of his most culturally significant intervention designed in 1959, demolished in 1982 and then replaced by a statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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After finishing his architectural training, Chadirji started his "architectural experiment" in Baghdad. Merging key characteristics of regional Iraqi architecture and contemporary features, Chadirji’s work often tried to reconcile tradition and modern times. Called “International regionalism”, the architect’s approach influenced the development of all the Arab region. While some may call him modernist, his work consisted of conceptualizing elements of traditional buildings and reproducing them in a contemporary setting. He often opted for vernacular fundamentals, incorporating them in a new form.

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Coming from an influential family, his father, Kamil Chadirji was president of the National Democratic Party. An important cultural figure between the 1950s and 1970s, a member of the art crowd the Modern Baghdad Group, Chadirji who is also an accomplished photographer, documented with his father Iraqi life, as well as regional architecture and the modernization of the region. 

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From the very outset of my practice, I thought it imperative that, sooner or later, Iraq create for itself an architecture regional in character yet simultaneously modern, part of the current international avant-garde style. -- Rifat Chadirji

The Unknown Soldier Monument, Baghdad. . Image Courtesy of

Winner of the Aga Khan Chairman Award in 1986, Chadirji’s work attracted worldwide acclaim, resulting in an honorary fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects. In 2017, Tamayouz Excellence Award named a prize in his honor. The Rifat Chadirji award celebrates projects that “highlight the current challenges facing communities in Iraq and respond to local community needs”.

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Iraqi Architect Rifat Chadirji Dies at 93 after Contracting the Coronavirus" 13 Apr 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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