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Rifat Chadirji

Chairman's Award: Lifetime Achievements of Rifat Chadirji

The Chairman's Award was established to honour special achievements.

The second Chairman's Award was given in 1986 to Rifat Chadirji, Iraqi architect, critic and teacher, for a lifetime dedicated to the search for an appropriate contemporary architectural expression that synthesises elements of the rich Islamic cultural heritage with key principles of the international architecture of the 20th century. Chadirji believes that architecture's future lies in lessons learned from its past. His designs are transformations of regional forms that seek to express, by means of abstraction, the construction technologies in almost universal use today, while affirming the aesthetic values the latter engender.

The last assignment he took before leaving Iraq for the United States was to serve as Advisor to the Municipality of Baghdad, then engaged in planning the most extensive urban reconstruction in the history of that city. Although the war between Iraq and Iran halted this project, his vision of Baghdad's future townscape, in conjunction with the rest of his life's work, still serves to raise critical questions about the meanings of architecture in Islamic society and offers important examples for study. His built work, projects, teaching and writings have helped form a conscience and set goals for Arab and Muslim architects everywhere.


First name: Rifat
Last name: Chadirji
Born: 1926
Gender: Male
Country of Origin: Iraq

Rifat Chadirji is an architects who has imbued his work with a deep understanding of the roots of authentic regional expression, as well as a true appreciation of modernism and its principles. Chadirji has shown a unique capacity for the synthesis of form and function that translates traditional architectural idioms into contemporary expressions. Chadirji's contributions transcend a mere body of work, important as that may be, for he also is a major figure in one of the most important and influential architectural schools in the Arab world. The Baghdad School of Architecture, where Chadirji taught for many years, has keenly felt Chadirji's influence. Rejecting the use of the forms of the past, Chadirji devised a synthesis of form that could translate into a new and contemporary urban aesthetic - one that would guide the articulations of a genuinely modern Iraqi town-scape in the latter part of the 20th century.