The city of Mosul (Iraq), meaning “the linking point” in Arabic, is one of the oldest cities in the world. Due to its strategic location it became a point of connection between various civilizations and cultures. However, this unique location also made it a target for Islamic State and was occupied between 2014 and 2017. The battles to expel them left the city in ruins and great humanitarian needs.
In 2018, UNESCO launched the initiative “Revive the spirit of Mosul” to promote the recovery of the city, not only rebuilding heritage buildings but also involving its population in this process through culture and education.
In November 2020, UNESCO, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Iraqi Sunni Endowment administered an international design competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al-Nuri complex, endorsed by the UIA (International Union of Architects). An international jury, including Xavier Casanovas, president of RehabiMed, announced that an entry by eight Egyptian architects won the international competition. Selected from among 123 entries, the winning design for a “Courtyards Dialogue” was presented by a team of eight Egyptian architects.
The project foresees the reconstruction of the of Al-Nouri’s prayer hall, now in ruins, and the construction of a new social complex annexed to the mosque and integrated into its urban environment. This integration is achieved by creating open public spaces connected with five entry points from the surrounding streets.
While the prayer hall will look as it did before its destruction, it will feature notable improvements in the use of natural light and expanded spaces for women and dignitaries. By creating new spaces dedicated to the community – for education, social and cultural activities – the project will serve the inhabitants of Mosul in ways that go beyond its principal religious function.