[First look + plans + project data] London and Baghdad-based AMBS Architects has unveiled plans for a 45,000m² library in the Iraqi capital
Commissioned by the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, the teardrop-shaped project is part of a planned ‘Youth City’ district in Baghdad intended to inspire the next generation of Iraqis.
The lakeside building features a lightweight, single-span roof and is expected to house more than three million books, rare manuscripts and periodicals.
According to the architect, the 80m steel cable roof will create the largest single span reading room in the world.
Performance and events spaces are also planned alongside digital facilities for the free public library which will feature the word ‘read’ in Arabic Kufic script on the roof.
Saad Eskander, National Library of Iraq director, said: ‘It is imperative for the new Iraq to consolidate its young democracy and good governance through knowledge.
‘New libraries have a notable role to play by promoting unconditional access to information, freedom of expression, cultural diversity and transparency. By responding to the needs of Iraq’s next generations, the new library, we hope, will play an important role in the future of our country.’
AMBS founder Ali Mousawi said: ‘Before 2003 Iraq had almost collapsed after a 13-year embargo and eight years of war. This kept the country isolated from the world and from modern technology.
‘I had to leave Iraq myself in 1982 and returned in 2003 to assist with the rebuilding of the country, with the aim of revitalising Iraq and establishing a new vision for the future.
‘What I saw when I returned and still see today is that the Iraqi youth are in many ways lost. They have been surrounded by violence, and for years there has been a lack of services and few opportunities for work or personal development.
‘We hope that the library will help shape Iraq’s next generation of intellects and politicians, artists and writers, poets and musicians, doctors and lawyers, and change makers.’
The project is expected to go out to tender for a contractor later this year.
Scheme: Baghdad Library, Youth City, Iraq
Dates: Awarded November 2011, scheduled to tender late 2013
Project size: 45,000m²
Client: Ministry of Sports and Youth
Services Provided: Architecture