Matrix

The Spirit of Mosul outlined in this matrix has been our foundation for making design decisions. It has guided our  attempt to create a subtle, timeless, sustainable and contextual vision for the future of the AI Nouri Complex.

Al Nouri Complex

Mosul, Iraq

UNESCO architectural competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Complex in Mosul

2021

Project Team:

Naomi Darling - Architect

Noor Makkiya - Architect, WMN Atelier

Marwa Al Dabooni - Architect, WMN Atelier

Earl Jackson - Architect, Earl Jackson Architecture Workshop

James Houck - Botanist, Ecostead LLC

Ben Rosenberg - Engineer, Silman Structural Engineers

Darrell Petit - Sculptor, Darrell Petit LLC

Vincent Marazita - Stone, Stone Trends International

Peter Harrison - Preservation, Stone Consultant

Project Summary:

 

Our team and our design process are fully committed to engaging city officials and the local community in an effort to:

 1. Create an integrated design inspired from and compatible with the traditional architecture of Mosul’s Old City, while considering the retention of authenticity and integrity of the Complex

   2. Create an oasis of peace and tranquility for worshipers and a vibrant vital center for the community, through the established new additional functions

   3. Integrate an environmentally conscious design, which in the Mosul context should consider locally resourced materials, climate and efficiency

  4. Integrate the newly designed buildings, landscaping and reconstructed portions with there mains of historical landmarks within the Complex

 

While we believe that we have much to learn before our vision for the Al Nouri Mosque Complex can be fully developed and realized, it has been our intention to learn from and work with the Spirit of Mosul. We believe our project is subtle, timeless and contextual while representing an optimistic view toward a resilient and sustainable future.We plan to continue the legacy of constructing with natural materials that celebrate the historic use of Fired Brick, Stone, Alabaster, and other materials that shaped the identity of the textile culture of craft in Mosul.

 

Our proposal is to create a green oasis whose edges are defined by a thickened perimeter of new and restored heritage buildings that welcome in the community from the surrounding neighborhood and greater city. The reconstructed and rehabilitated Al Nouri Complex will be a place of pride and progress. It will link the past to the future, and it will become a vital center of opportunity as the Spirit of Mosul endure.

Full Project Description:

 

For centuries the movements of Moslawis through the streets of the Old City have defined the shape and scale of their community. Over time, changes in the city fabric may have gone unnoticed, but recent events have brought about massive and abrupt change in the city. The story of the Moslawis is written in stone and this project proposal honors this heritage.

 

We see it as our task to empower the people of Mosul to gather up what once was and remake it anew, remake it better, more resilient, more nurturing, healthier, optimistic, and more equitable. Our goal is to create a place of dignity that will serve as the foundation for the reconstruction of the Old City of Mosul. We are committed to use local materials, to create of a vibrant native landscape, and to employ local talent to plan, design, and reconstruct the Al Nouri Complex. Our work strives for a timeless aesthetic and a sustainable resilient approach that will lead to an enduring design.

 

To remain focused on a culturally relevant approach, we created the Spirit of Mosul Matrix. The Matrix has been our foundation for making design decisions and has guided our humble attempt to create a subtle, timeless, sustainable, and contextual vision for the future of the Al Nouri Complex.

We consider the Old City and the Al Nouri Complex (ANC) as integrated and inseparable. Our proposal creates a green oasis enclosed by a thickened perimeter of new and restored heritage buildings that welcomes the community from the surrounding neighborhood and greater city. The scale of the old city fabric is reflected in the newly created portals and pathways that welcome visitors to the complex.  The ANC has two distinct areas – the historic area with the Prayer Hall and Sahn, and the extension area occupied by the Al Nouri Secondary School and Higher Institute of Art and Islamic Architecture (HIAIA). At the heart of both of these areas are landscapes that bring peace and tranquility to the entire complex.  

The historic area, surrounding the Sahn and facing the rehabilitated Prayer Hall, is envisioned to be a tranquil area of repose. It is a garden-like oasis that will allow one to experience the sound of the wind passing through the leaves of trees overhead and the smell of roses along its flanks. The most refined materials, finishes, and landscapes are reserved for this area. The shape of the space and arrangement of trees foreshortens one’s view, bringing the Prayer Hall closer from even the deepest parts of the gardens. 

The Prayer Hall has been re-designed to feel familiar and timeless. Its form will remain as it has been historically yet will include modern details that convey a sense of faith and optimism for the future. We are preserving the Dome, Mihrab, Columns, and all aspects of the facility that are salvageable near the central portion of the building and have developed a strategy where new stone is added to the old in a concentric geometric progression as we move outward from below the dome. A new structure, inspired by the historic Maqsura dome built by Nour Al-Din Zengi, will support the historic dome. A layer has been added to the south façade to help bring natural light into the most sacred spaces within the Prayer Hall. 

All other functions serving the Sahn and the Prayer Hall are screened from the space by a row of tall stately trees and a layer of carved stone screen panels that conceal Ablutions and access to water closets. Just north of the Sahn is a newly planted Pistachio Grove, a passive open space designed in honor of the history of the Al Nouri Tomb and Shrine. A small new museum will be designed at the eastern end of the grove to house additional surviving artifacts associated with the Complex. 

The extension area creates a series of open spaces of varying character surrounded by newly created academic institutions, the Al Nouri Secondary School and the Higher Institute of Art and Islamic Architecture. The HIAIA will create the Complex’s primary identity along Farouk Street with a three-story raised block defining a new public plaza and entry into the complex. The new buildings will be built primarily of 0.5m cubes of natural stone that are simply split and separated to create openings for light and air while providing thermal mass for comfort. The dimension of the stone relates the new buildings to the historic buildings being rehabilitated and repurposed to house a new café (building 10), a shared library (building 9) and school administrative offices (building 8).  

The inner perimeter of the new buildings is lined with a covered walkway connecting classrooms to the shared library and overlooking the central open space. The open space is composed of a courtyard for the HIAIA, an open Sports Hall for the secondary school, and a smaller courtyard accessible to the entire complex. Both courtyards are graced with large meeting trees that will serve as focal points for gathering while providing shade and cooling.  

Uniting the historic and extension areas and following the historic alley, are the new Festivities Hall and Administration Buildings. The new Administration Building will serve both the Prayer Hall and the HIAIA. The Festivities Hall will define the character of the entries at both the north and south ends of the complex. Its western façade fronts on the historic path to Al Hadba from Great Mosque Street. The space along that edge is envisioned as an open circulation space that helps light the path in the evening and early morning hours. The north end of the hall features a terrace under Al Hadba that overlooks both the Sahn to the east and the Secondary School Entrance Plaza to the west.  

The reconstructed and rehabilitated Al Nouri Complex will be a place of pride and celebration, linking past to future and creating a vital center of opportunity that revives the Spirit of Mosul.  

Site Plan

Open Space and Vegetation Plan

Site Perimeter - Wall & Building Strategy

Historical Buildings Integration Strategy

Existing Structures

New Structures 

Sections Through Site

Wall Operation

Stone Block Facade Treatment

Logitudinal Section of the Prayer Hall

01 -  Central Bay Area
02 - Azan and Vip
03 - Women Prayer Area

Dome Strategy

Historic Column Component Integration Strategy

Team Members

Team.jpg