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.


Yemen’s Houthis indicate willingness to hand over port to UN — sources

Updated 44 min 8 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis indicate willingness to hand over port to UN — sources

  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged a swift military operation without entering the city center
  • Hodeidah port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen

WASHINGTON: Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of Hodeidah port to the United Nations, a potential breakthrough in a conflict that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, sources familiar with the efforts said.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city center, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of essential goods.
Hodeidah port is a principal entry point for relief supplies for Yemen. UN officials have warned that large-scale fighting in the city could threaten tens of thousands.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this week to try to negotiate a solution.
Deputy US Secretary of State John Sullivan and the head of the US Agency for International Development, Mark Green, met on Thursday with international and non-governmental agencies to discuss the port conflict, the State Department said.
At the meeting, Sullivan endorsed “Griffiths’ efforts to avoid an escalation in fighting by brokering a compromise over the management of the port” and underscored the US commitment to a political solution, the department said in a statement.
A diplomatic source at the United Nations said the coalition had informed Griffiths it would study the proposal.
The source said the Houthis indicated they would accept overall UN rule for port management and inspections.
A Western diplomat said the United Nations would oversee income from the port and make sure it gets to Yemen’s central bank. The understanding is for Yemeni state employees to remain working alongside the United Nations.
The sources cautioned that the plan still needed agreement from all sides to the conflict, and would not, at least in its initial stages, result in an immediate cease-fire.
In a statement on Thursday, Griffiths said he was “encouraged by the constructive engagement” of the Houthis and would be holding meetings with Yemen’s internationally backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi and Emirati embassies in Washington. Houthi representatives could not be reached for immediate comment.
DILEMMA FOR WASHINGTON
Questions remain over the withdrawal of the Houthis from Hodeidah city itself, as the Emirates and their Yemeni allies have demanded, as well as over a broader cease-fire, the Western diplomat said.
Securing an agreement on leaving the city could be “one of the major sticking points,” the Western diplomat said.
Speaking earlier at the United Nations, Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, reiterated the coalition’s demand that the Houthis quit the city entirely, while citing Griffiths’ slow progress.
“On the ground, what we are offering is for the Houthis to hand over their weapons to the government of Yemen and to leave, to leave peacefully and to provide information about the locations of the mines and improvised explosive devices and so forth,” Mouallimi said.