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The Al-Kadhimiyah Cultural Centre in Baghdad, Iraq

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By Zainab.Albunajm

The Al-Kadhimiyah Cultural Centre in Baghdad, Iraq

Site Analysis. Click the image for a larger view.

The Al-Kadhimiyah Cultural Centre in Baghdad, Iraq

The Paradise garden. Click the image for a larger view.

Project Name and Location

Al-Kadhimiyah Cultural Centre, Baghdad, Iraq

Designed By

Zainab Al Bunajim

About the Project

The chosen location of the Cultural Centre is on the Eastern side of the site, where it is surrounded by main streets and one of the main entrances to the holy shrine in or order to provide easy access. Programmes within the building will include exhibition spaces/s and sales area, storage space, archive and library with research work spaces, multipurpose teaching and meeting room/s, cafe, outdoor learning/meeting area.

The challenge of the project is to design a building that is traditional respecting the heritage of the site yet modern at the same time.


Kadhimiyah city is an ancient town with a long and glorious past; a part of the ancient and modern Baghdad, it is a traditionally city with historical roots, and thus is one of the traditional cities that is still inhabited by the indigenous population who retain traditional customs and social values. The people of the city adapted with the environment of the city, earning the city a special identity reflecting the depth of the city. They belong to the site through a complex system of relationships that reflect the identity of the ideological, economic and social development, and that are reflected in the Islamic planning and design of the city. The buildings are a symbolic response to the environment, faith and social norms that are still prevalent today and are part of the culture and the identity of the place. The population of the city is said to be 28,000 approximately.

Since the Islamic religion is a religion for all times and is encouraged to develop in the service of humanity and usefulness and is not inclined to inertia and rigidity of thought, this must be implemented and reflected on the Islamic city, which must accommodate the requirements of the times in order to function successfully.


The Kadhimyah city lies north-west of the capital Baghdad (5 km), and on the right bank of the Tigris River near Karkh. The site is bounded on the east by Tigris River, and from the West Algrabip lands, and from the north, the Taji lands, and from the south, Aekeidat land. The city is also linked to the side of Adhamiya by a new bridge known as Al-Imam Bridge. The Sarafiya bridge also links the city to the city of Rusafa.

The area around the shrine is made up of 4 large markets, Alqtanp, Dabagh field, the hill, and part of the Alsheokh store. Kadhimyah is characterized that it does not sit directly on the river since the inception was due to the presence of the Alkazemi shrine and not a river. The site is one of Shiite identity and pilgrimage.

Lessons Learned

  • The challenge of modern and tradition: i.e designing a building that respects its site history but is at the same time modern
  • The transition created between outside and inside: i.e rough on the outside (historic) and smooth (mosaic) from the inside. The garden allowed for that problem to be solved.
  • Transitions created in entrance ways
  • The garden is both Library and Garden
  • Wind towers are added for the building to be environmentally friendly. However, the height of the towers was considered to not compete with the minarets of the Imam

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