Prominent Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji dies in London aged 94

Prominent Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji dies in London aged 94
Prominent Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji dies in London aged 94

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji has died in London, aged 94.

Chadirji, often called the father of Iraqi architecture, was responsible for the design of more than 100 buildings across Iraq, including the Tobacco Monopoly Headquarters and the Central Post Office in Baghdad.

Born in Baghdad in 1926, he was an important cultural figure between the 1950s and 1970s and came from an influential family. His father Kamil Chadirji founded and became president of the National Democratic Party.

Perhaps his most culturally significant work was the arched Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad's Firdos Square, which was later replaced by a statue of Saddam Hussein.

Later, the world watched as US forces destroyed Hussein's likeness in the square after capturing Baghdad in 2003.

A rebuild was mooted in the early 2000s, but never came to fruition.

He won the Aga Khan Chairman award in 1986, a triennial architecture prize awarded to those those who "successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence".

Chadirji was an opponent of the Baathist regime and was jailed for his political views under Saddam Hussein's rule of Iraq. He left Iraq for a post at Harvard University in 1983 and only briefly returned after the US invasion.

He was a prolific photographer, documenting Iraqi life on a huge scale. His photographs have been exhibited in countries across the Middle East.

Iraq's Prime minister designate, Mustafa Al Khadhimi paid tribute to his friend Chadirji on Saturday, calling his passing a "a loss for Iraq and humanity".

"He was a model for devotion to national architectural identity, and his legacy reflects how architecture can define cities and nations," Mr Al Khadhimi wrote on Twitter.

"May he rest in peace. Our thoughts are with his family."

Iraqi President Barham Salih also added his voice to the tributes, saying with Chadirji's death the "world loses its modern lung, which breathes modernity and beauty," adding he left behind "much to the heritage of this country".

Updated: April 11, 2020 11:08 AM

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