School In The Marshes

Saif Alrudainy
University of Basra - Department of Architectural Engineering

Project idea

A Typical Marsh Landscape: Villages are built on artificial floating islands by enclosing a piece of swamp and filling it in with reeds and mud. For flood protection, more layers are added each year to strengthen the platform’s foundation.
The Iraqi Marshes are a wetland area located in southern Iraq. Historically the marshlands, mainly composed of the separate but adjacent Central, Hawizeh and Hammar Marshes, used to be the largest wetland ecosystem of Western Eurasia. It is a rare aquatic landscape in the desert since 2016 the Mesopotamian marshes are listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Project description

The project is a primary school in the long-forgotten area of the Iraqi marshes, taking into account the limitations of the area and the ecological impact of construction on nature and the fauna of the marshes. The design is for a 6-class primary school serving the nearby villages with all the amenities of a modern school. The environmentally sensitive design to take special care to minimize the impact on the fragile ecosystem of the marshes and to emphasize the awareness of the children of their unique surroundings and the importance of the impact of the humans on the marshes and its fauna.

Technical information

Since the site is part of the drier areas of the marshes and located between two rivers, we thought the school should have a positive presence on site.
Most of the students study in this school live in houses of reeds float on marshes, we decided to create similar environment to theirs so they feel comfortable, to achieve that, part of the site pushed down to allow water from rivers to flow in a controlled way, set of platforms similar to the base of marsh houses, connected to water to reduce heat of the buildings. The cold air passes through these platforms for assembling in an old traditional way, used in Arab regions, known as (Wind catchers).
Wind catchers height make them landmark in the region to facilitate the arrival of students who reach the school by rivers, using "mashoof".
To reduce dependence on electricity, the roof was insulated using false ceilings of reeds, a semi-open area has been created to allow the passage of air to isolate the inner roof from the heat of the sun, the structure was cooled using a pipelines network passing through the walls, By these pipelines, the water is transformed from outside to the structure and then to the landscape, also the brick was covered by clay to reduce the building's usage of energy.
In conclusion, we made a sustainable building that depends on the nature and have positive impact on surrounding area; in a form derived from the region civilization.


Alsadeq Sadeq
Samer Al-Kaabawi
Muzdalifa Jaafar

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