Bagdad arts déco, architectures de brique, 1920-1950
In July 1936, Ahmad Mukhtar was the first Irakian graduate from a European school of architecture (Liverpool). The residents of Baghdad had obviously not waited until then to produce their own architecture: the ustâs, the local brick builders- sculptors, had mastered for more than a millennium the techniques that allowed them to build the traditional houses with an interior court yard (hosh) and rooms with corbelled sculpted wood constructions on the upper floor (shanashil). The author shows the permanent characteristic, in the middle of the XXth century and in spite of the upheavals of history, of the brick, the fundamental element. Even the British, who occupied the city as of 1917, used it in their symbolic buildings such as the museum of archaeology or the hospital. And even though habitat became more rational in the thirties with housing developments with houses all in a row and the introduction of concrete, bricks survived as an element of decoration. Moulded, chiselled, embellished by ironwork or cartouches of stucco, it continued to give the city that specific cream colour that is nothing else but the one of Ancient Mesopotamia.
• Bagdad arts déco, architectures de brique, 1920-1950, by Caecilia Pieri, L’Archange Minotaure publishing house, 2008, 158 p., 49 €, ISBN : 978-2-35463-032-4
Review published in the newsletter #112 - from 4 December 2008 to 10 December 2008