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Rifat Chadirji, 1926-2020



The “father of modern Iraqi architecture” breathed his last on 11 April at 93 years of age. He was born in Baghdad into an affluent and well connected family; his father, in fact, was president of the National Democratic Party, and this proximity to power complemented his talent and capacity for work in making Chadirji a major cultural figure in Iraq from the 1950s to 1979, the year Sadam Hussein took over. During this period of oil-based developmentalism, Chadirji devoted himself to documentary photography, but above all erected more than a hundred buildings, including highly representative ones like the Tobacco Monopoly Headquarters in the capital and the Monument to the Unknown Soldier at Firdos Square, which was later replaced by the statue of Hussein that would come down in the wake of the American invasion of 2003. In these as in other works of his, Chadirji crafted an architecture that fused stylistic features of the Modern Movement with references to regional traditions, in accordance with an eclecticism which he explained in Al Ukhaidir and the Crystal Palace, the book he wrote while imprisoned by Sadam Hussein. 

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