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.


Algeria goes offline to stop students cheating

Updated 20 June 2018
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Algeria goes offline to stop students cheating

ALGIERS: Algeria went offline on Wednesday for the start of high school diploma exams, the first in a series of Internet blackouts to stop students cheating.
Mobile and fixed Internet lines were cut across the country for a total of two hours, to coincide with the start of two separate school tests, AFP journalists in Algiers said.
A third hour-long Internet shutdown was planned for later on Wednesday, according to a schedule issued by public operator Algerie Telecom.
Internet services were cut “in compliance with instructions from the government, aimed at ensuring the high school diploma tests run smoothly,” Algerie Telecom said.
The pre-planned blackouts are due to continue for the whole period of exams, until Monday, to combat cheating among more than 700,000 students.
Ali Kahlane, president of telecoms association AOTA, said operators were required to conform to the government’s demands.
The 2016 exam season was marred by widespread cheating, with exam questions published on social media before or at the start of the test.
Last year, authorities requested operators shut down access to social media, but the move did not entirely end the problem.
Latecomers were banned from taking the exam and instead had to attend a specially organized test.
Electronics with Internet access, such as mobile phones and tablets, were this year banned from Algeria’s more than 2,000 exam centers.
Metal detectors have meanwhile been set up at the entrance to the centers, Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit said.
In a further move to prevent questions being leaked, the minister said mobile phone jammers and surveillance cameras had been installed in locations where the exam papers are printed.