Scheduled to tender later this year, the Baghdad Library is a symbol of hope for Iraq’s young people. The design was secured by AMBS Architects with library specialists ACA Consultants in 2011 and recently-released renderings show a bold design curving upwards like a stingray in flight.
Founder of AMBS Architects Ali Mousawi is tied to the Baghdad project in more ways than one, having lived in the city until 1982 and returned in 2003 to assist with the rebuilding process. For him, the construction of a new multifunctional library for all ages in Baghdad is an big step in the right direction.
Mousawi explains: “What I saw when I returned and still see today is that the Iraqi youth are in many ways lost. They have been surrounded by violence, and for years there has been a lack of services and few opportunities for work or personal development. We hope that the library will help shape Iraq’s next generation of intellects and politicians, artists and writers, poets and musicians, doctors and lawyers, and change makers.”
To provide an attractive venue for these future ‘change makers’, AMBS Architects has conceptualised a sweeping form on the waterfront which, from above, boasts an encrypted message in the form of ‘read’ written in Arabic Kufic script. This has been folded into the lightweight, single-span roof which arches over the main open-plan volume.
Underneath this roof is a yawning open space with rings of book-lined shelves under a patterned ceiling. Renderings show various curved balconies stacked with texts and cosy spaces where readers can relax with a book or settle down to study. Digital media facilities and high end computers will also be on offer in the multifunctional library complex.
AMBS Co-founder and Director Marcos De Andres explains: “The Baghdad Library is more than simply a sleek and strikingly beautiful structure - what makes this building truly remarkable is the user interface. Our focus was the building’s behaviour, and our systematic approach started with a creative dialogue; thinking rationally, reasoning and discussing how the building should work.
“We have challenged the conventional library model, conceiving it as a modern, multi-functional public space. We identified core activities and paid special attention to the exchanges we wanted to engender through use. Thoughts and ideas gave shape to a set of unique spaces, and little by little an ideal model was formed.”