The site is the old Baghdad Governorate Building in Al-Rusafa side of Baghdad (old Al-Rusafa area), the site lies between Al-Rasheed st. to the north, Al-Mutanabbi st., Al-Shuhadaa Bridge and Madrasa Mustansiriya to the east, the Abbasid Palace to the west and Al-Qishla and Tigris river to the south.
The partially remaining building fabric on the competition site is what was once the Old Baghdad Governorate Building built in the early 20th century.
The Old Baghdad Governorate building was heavily damaged (only the skin of the building remains) due to the looting and the vandalism in the week that followed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The site is currently underused, and have not been properly maintained.
In a world that is constantly changing with new waves in the advancement of technology, building techniques, and philosophical approaches towards architecture. Changes in political, social and economic contexts of a city, it is important to give value to objects and buildings of our historical and cultural heritage by dealing with different methods of preservation and conservation strategies. The condition and the state that the building is in tells us a story of the events that these stones have witnessed throughout history, acknowledging their historical value, preserving the original material and the with that the authenticity, and ultimately the aura of the building. Offsetting our proposal for the new Design Center from the existing facades to avoid any frictions between the original and the new building, these frictions might also affect how a building serves as a memory/document, because of the close relationship between form and function.
An exterior ramp going around the new building offering different views of the surroundings from the existing facades and ending over the main entrance with a panoramic view of the area. Borrowing from some of the original design elements of the existing facades and integrating some of these concepts in our new design. We looked at how the site is being used today as a place where people like to hangout and take refuge from the hectic city life that surrounds it, lifting our new building on pilotes creating a main axis for accessibility and to allow a free movement on the ground floor before ascending to the upper gallery floors.