Self-designed homes could provide sustainable future for liberated Mosul

A glimpse of destruction in Mosul. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Self-designed homes could provide sustainable future for liberated Mosul

LONDON: Self-designed homes based on traditional Iraqi architecture could be the solution to the drastic housing crisis facing Mosul, where hundreds of thousands are expected to return following the end of three years of Daesh occupation.
An award-winning design would see returning residents create their own neighborhoods in modules that can grow and evolve to suit their needs.
“The shape of the housing is completely up to the inhabitants,” said Ania Otlik, the winner of inaugural Rifat Chadirji Prize, which challenged architects to find a practical and sustainable solution to the Iraqi city’s housing needs.
“Having one measure that fits all is almost impossible, especially when it comes to such a diverse society ... which varies in religion, culture, background (and) family size.”
Nearly 1 million civilians fled in the three years since Daesh militants took the city, which Iraq declared liberated in July, according to the UN.
Iraqi government officials have estimated it will take at least five years and billions of dollars to rebuild Mosul.
Otlik, a graduate of Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Poland, researched traditional Iraqi architectural designs, poring over sketches and schemes to create her housing plan.
Each dwelling is constructed around a central patio, providing outside space around which rooms and spaces can be arranged.
“The plan of the house can be a little more open when the family decides it this way, or maybe another family is strictly Islamic so they will build it in their own traditional way,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Building materials that are easy to source in the battle-scarred city — such as rubble and mud — could be used for construction until more permanent replacements become available, she said.
Otlik drew inspiration from her native Poland, whose capital Warsaw was entirely rebuilt after it was razed by Nazi troops during the Second World War.
Other finalist designs featured garden bridges over the Tigris river to provide housing and urban farms, and homes connected via a metro repurposed from a system of subterranean tunnels constructed by Islamic State to aid its fighters.
“It was not a problem finding a winner,” said Ahmed Al-Mallak, founding director of the independent Tamayouz Excellence Award, which oversaw the competition.


Syria state media: rebels reportedly agree surrender deal in Al-Quneitra

Updated 19 July 2018
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Syria state media: rebels reportedly agree surrender deal in Al-Quneitra

  • If verified, the move would mark another major victory for President Bashar Assad
  • Putin, Assad’s most powerful ally, cited the need to restore the situation along the Golan borders

BEIRUT/AMMAN: The Syrian state news agency SANA said on Thursday there are reports that rebels had agreed a surrender deal in the southwestern province of Al-Quneitra at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
If verified, the move would mark another major victory for President Bashar Assad, who has recovered swathes of southwestern Syria over the last month in a Russian-backed offensive that has forced many rebels to surrender.
SANA, citing its correspondent, said the deal stipulated a return of the Syrian army to positions it held prior to 2011, when the Syrian conflict erupted.
Citing reports, SANA said the agreement “stipulates the departure to Idlib of terrorists who reject the settlement” and allowed those who wish to remain to “settle” their status with the authorities, meaning accepting a return of Assad’s rule.
A rebel source sent a copy of what he said was the final agreement — that included a provision that Russian military police would accompany two Syrian army brigades into a demilitarized zone that has been in place on the Golan Heights since 1974.
The zone was agreed after the 1973 Middle Eastern war.
There would be further negotiations on a deadline for handing over medium and heavy weapons, according to the agreement sent by the rebel source.
US President Donald Trump said at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki that both had agreed to work together to help ensure Israel’s security.
Putin, Assad’s most powerful ally, cited the need to restore the situation along the Golan borders to the state that prevailed before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011.