Last November, UNESCO, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, and the Iraqi Sunni Endowment jointly announced an international design competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the historical Al Nouri Complex in Mosul. One of the oldest cities in the world, Mosul ("the linking point" in Arabic) is beginning a recovery process following years of conflict, guided by an initiative aptly titled "Revive the Spirit of Mosul." The rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Complex, which dates originally to the twelfth century and has constituted a core facet of city life since, is a central part of this initiative, and is intended to signal the city's resilience, hope, social cohesion, and reconciliation in the aftermath of the conflicts. Six months after the competition was originally announced, winners have finally been chosen.
The Al Nouri complex, damaged severely in 2017, included several monumental spiritual landmarks, including the Al-Hadba Minaret and the Al Nouri Prayer Hall. For its reconstruction, the competition organizers called for an integrated rehabilitation program, rebuilding the Al Nouri Prayer Hall while also integrating new functions and secondary buildings that would recover the complex's central importance to the fabric of the city.
Endorsed by UIA (International Union of Architects), the competition was framed as an anonymous and open call for proposals, requiring that the leaders of the participating teams have at least five years of experience in the field and demonstrated experience in rehabilitation or new designs in historical contexts. A prize of $50,000 would be awarded to the winning entry, with additional prizes going to four runner-ups and special recognition going to honorary mentions. The entries were evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Integration of the newly designed elements into the remains of the historical landmarks, as well as into the historical context;
- Impact on the urban and social context;
- Potential of expressing and reinforcing cultural and community identity;
- Potential of contributing to sustainable development;
- Competency of design approach and expression;
- Architectural quality;
- Integration into the heritage landscape;
- Innovation and creativity;
- Historical analysis and documentation aspects/consideration
- Ecological aspects;
- Functional aspects;
- Economy of means in the design approach;
- Feasibility and implementation potential;
- Coherence of holistic approach;
- General impression.
These criteria were assessed by a jury of ten members (9 + 1 alternate juror), headed by RAW-NYC Architects founder Raya Ani, FAIA, LEED AP. They included:
- Howayda Al-Harithy, Professor of Architecture and Director of the School of Design at the American University of Beirut (Saudi Arabia)
- Ahmed Alomary, Head of the Department of Architectural Engineering at the University of Mosul (Iraq)
- Xavier Casanovas, Expert in urban regeneration and sustainable rehabilitation and professor at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain)
- Amel Chabbi, Head of the Conservation Section at the Department of Culture and Tourism for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
- Shahira Fahmy, Architect, urbanist, creative researcher and founder of Shahira Fahmi Architects (Egypt)
- Wang Shu, Architect and co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio (China)
- Marina Tabassum, Architect and principal of Marina Tabassum Architects (Bangladesh)
- Jerzy Uścinowicz, Professor of Architecture and Head of the Division of Architecture of Local Cultures in the Faculty of Architecture of the Białystok University of Technology (Poland)
- Doris Wälchli, Director of Brauen Wälchi Achitects (Switzerland)
The jury meeting took place from April 6 to April 12. They received 123 applications from around the world.
1st Prize – $50,000 USD & award of contract for detailed design
- Country: Egypt
- Team Leader: Salah El Din Samir Hareedy (Associate Professor at Alexandria University, Egypt. CEO. of HEADS)
- Team Members: Khaled Farid El-Deeb (Professor at Alexandria University, Egypt, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, KSA); Sherif Farag Ebrahim (Assistant Professor at Alexandria University, Egypt.CEO. of ADD Architects); Tarek Ali Mohamed (Co-founder of JOZOOR Architectural Studio); Noha Mansour Ryan (Senior Architect at ADD Architects); Hager Abdelghany Gad (Senior Architect at ADD Architects); Mahmoud Saad Gamal (Junior Architect at ADD Architects) and Yousra Mohamed Rashad (Ph.D. researcher, Architect at United Company for Housing and Development)
The Project is built around the primary goal of creating integrated open public spaces, connecting the main courtyard in front of the Prayer Hall with the expansion area.
The architectural masses are developed as organic edges giving a porous spatial definition to the multiple system of open spaces, with the overall goal of enhancing the function of the main open space of Mosul (the Al Nouri Complex) as urban hub for the old city.
The majority of the new functions included in the building program are located in the expansion area (western sector of the complex), with some ad-hoc solutions on the “connection points” between different pre-existent given architectural elements (for example the houses on the north-eastern sector) in order to give continuity, while ensuring a convincing hierarchy and articulation of the space.
The overall complex is given 5 public accesses, along the main streets around, with a special emphasis given to those evocating the north-south alley originally separating the historical perimeter of the Al Nouri complex from the expansion area.
The Prayer Hall is rebuilt how it was before its destruction in 2017, but with some specific improvements regarding the natural light and, also, the required needs to include some additional spaces, notably an enlarged area for women and the VIP area. These additional spaces are added on both sides of the main architectural mass and connected through a semi-covered open structure which functions as a summer prayer area, and gives continuity to the facades towards the main Mosque courtyard.
2nd Prize – $30,000 USD
- Country: India
- Team Leaders: Avneesh Tiwari (Founder of atArchitecture) and Gurjit Singh Matharoo (Founderof Matharoo Associates)
- Team Members: Neha Rane (Founder of atArchitecture) and Jain Savi Sanjay Vimmi (Junior Architect at Matharoo Associates)
3rd Prize – $20,000 USD
- Country: Spain
- Team Leaders: Francisco Javier Maroto Ramos (MBA.MECES. PHD Senior Architect, ETSAM. UPM)
- Team Members: Pedro García Martínez (MBA.MECES. PHD Senior Architect, ETSAM. UPM); Antonio Palomino, Bueno; Alberto Palomino Bueno (Senior Architect BIM Manager, ETSAM. UPM, Maribel Sánchez Fernández (Architect. Bim Manager), Rocío Sánchez Córcoles (Architect), Manuel Albaladejo Garre (Architect); Francisco Jesús Aparicio Buendía (Architect); Jonathan Andrés Ríos Armijos (Architect)
4th Prize – $15,000 USD
- Country: USA and Mexico
- Team Leaders: PRODUCTORA (Wonne Ickx, Carlos Bedoya, Victor Jaime, Abel Perles)
- Team Members: Architects: PRODUCTORA + Asli Cicek, Andrea Monroy, Diana Fonseca, Sofia Valdovinos, Ruy Berumen, Ana Reed, Erik Castaneda, Yael Saadia, Diego Velazquez, Pablo Manjarrez, Fidel Fernandez
5th Prize – $10,000 USD
- Country: UAE and France
- Team Leaders: Clement Blanchet (Clément Blanchet Architecture (cba))
- Team Members: Clotilde Berrou & Marc Kauffmann – BKClub (Associate Team Leaders), Mattia Malavenda – MMA (Associate Team Leader) Hellen Almoustafa Christina Chelarescu – SANE/CBA, Lola Garcia – BKClub, Philippe Gimet – Operel Laure Le Guillou – Phoebus SAS, Fabrice Merizzi – Phoebus SAS, Simon Parilla, Camille Pepin, Romain Ricciotti – LRing, Samir Nicolas Saddi – ARCADE, Shantanu Sang – CBA, Philippe Sarfati – CBA, Isabelle-Camille Tertrais – BKClub, Pierre-Mary Thibault – Aldel, Angelo Trinca – CBA, Yves Ubelmann – Iconemand Patrycja Wyparlo – CBA
First Honorary Mention
- Country: Italy
- Team Leaders: Arch. Riccardo Renzi (PhD)
- Team Members: Arch. Elena Ceccarelli , Arch. Gabriele Marinari, Arch. Virginia Vivona, Arch. Diego Betti and Dott. Antonio Ciracì
Second Honorary Mention
- Country: Greece
- Team Leaders: Leonidas Papalampropoulos (Architect, Assistant Professor Department of Architecture University of Patras)
- Team Members: Georgia Syriopoulou (Architect), Lampros Papalampropoulos (Architect), Alexandros Karageorgos (Structural Engineer), Natalia Sotirchou (University of Patras), and Elena Chrissochoedou (University of Patras)