Richard Kroeker Design

Iraqi Marshes Museum and Research Center

A team consisting of architects Richard Kroeker, Sahar Rassam, Riyadh Tappuni, and environmental engineer Trevor Butler won this 2005 international competition for a Marsh Museum and Research Center. The Marshes at the conjunction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Eden of mythology, has been home to a unique culture and ecosystem for many thousands of years. During the 1990's, the region's ecosystem was nearly completely destroyed by a combination of damming projects and drainage systems. Re𠄯looding of the marshes began in 2003, and the competition, sponsored by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, is part of an on‒going restoration effort. The design for the center seeks to facilitate ecological research into plant and animal life particular to this eco-system for the purpose of monitoring and facilitating habitat restoration. The project would also create places for the retraining of people in traditional skills, and restoration of their unique culture.

The project is self sufficient in terms of energy needs for cooling, electricity and heating, and treats its own wastewater through contained solar aquatic beds, before returning it to the marshlands. It is proposed that it be built using local materials and skills. The walls above high water mark are designed to be rammed earth, with screens made of qasab, the local marsh reed used for building traditionally. Using another traditional principle, Wind scoops are positioned relative to prevailing winds to create high and low pressure zones as needed to move air though out the buildings. Historically, the people of the marshes built on constructed islands. In this proposal, the buildings themselves form artificial islands, with accessible rooftops.