The Child is not at home.
No more does She dream of casual strolls with companions through the crisscrossing alleys,
Not even longs to catch up with friends on the hugging terraces of the houses anymore,
Neither is She affected by the changing day, night and seasons with the family in the courtyards anymore,
Nor does She aspire to seek her daily dose of new discoveries in the same old neighborhood,
Has forgotten to tell her long stories sitting on the veranda of a candy shop, gazing at people.
She has only lost; her ground, her play and her water.
She has seen invaders enough, invaders of all kind, same different, known unknown, warring peaceful, good bad, all have invaded her.
Traumatized, her world is in shatters, and She doesn’t even know why.
Does She need any more of those memories?
To erase her painful memories by giving back her never ending alleys, the hugging terraces, intimate moonlit courtyards and her river full of stories!
The attempt of rebuilding is literally that; dissolution of boundaries through an unselfconscious generic approach to slowly build the city back. Architect herecan’t be another intruder; only a facilitator in the slow process of rebuilding.
Unearth traces left behind in the cityand build along those in so much that it becomes an indistinguishable part of the city. Built upon all the discovered layers, without assigning any values, the city regains its continuum.
First and foremost, the city alleys are extended and are retained as primary circulation routes in the assigned area. Gates and controls are kept discreet and recessed.
Allow her to find herown path through the network seamlessly flowing into the city fabric. Pauses in the path become spaces of congregation.
Built masses aligned along the alleys make them shaded and deep with discovery awaiting her at each turn. What is left is a residual courtyard in the center, each court is thus unique, varying in shape, size and scale, becoming alive at various times of the day. Both schools havetheir own set of courtyards, with adjoining verandahs and arcades. Learning happens outside of classrooms.
The small grain of the city is continued through the placement of terraces at different levels; some walled, some open, some closed, some offering vistas and some just for her play.
Use simple, appropriate technology so that the city at large can participate. Central buildings function as open construction workshops for rebuilding the city. Nothing is taboo here, all are welcome, variations and deviations from the blueprintonly add to the character of the city. Available here is the kit of parts, all materials for building, local as well as discarded debris are made accessible. Inhabitants are the stake holders; layers of time will assume shapes to recreate the city-scape.
The familiarity with the traditional is to curate her identity, and not to create a new one.
Same approach of rebuilding on the lost layers is applied here to the heritage precinct as well. The two annexesfrom the past get added to the sides; the open structures behind the mosque are brought back, buttressing the old. They are planted in and left open to all. Long lost, two subordinate domes are once again hollowed out to adorn the terrace. They complete the story of the 8 columns waiting below. New match perfectly to the old; same material, same form, same space, only reinforced by a thin non-intrusive RCC portal within the masonry columns and a slab to tie it all together. To make distinction between the old and the new, a layer of cobalt blue Zink tile is inserted.
Strong, easy and pure, She wonders if it was ever gone.
The landscape is meant for the Child of all ages. One that is multifunctional and durable, calm and serene, emerging and disappearing. Same trees are planted that were once a part: Mulberries, Willows, Palms, aiding biodiversity and aroma.
The terraces leading down from the yet to be tower opposite, Al Hadba, are used for large congregations that spill over onto them.
A trickle of water cascades down to the footprint of the garden that too was burnt down, almost as if to douse the fire and bring peace back. This water from the Tigris, alive in the memory from times primordial, forms a surface for the Child to walk on, splash around or immerse herself in. The spectacle of water stays temporarily creating vivid imagery and returns to the ground to be recirculated. This is her playscape.
This playscape, if nothing else, will help erase her tormented past, and maybe the Child will be at home.
ZONING AND LAYOUT
On the west, the main access street to the prayer hall bisects the public functions of the school into administrative to the north and cultural to the south. The academic functions are primarily laid out on the upper levels, interconnected while split into boys to the west and girls to the east.
Taking clues from the city fabric, the activities are juxtaposed, spaces multifunctional, offering diversity and a flexible growth pattern.
On the north, continuation of city streets serves as natural entrances to the schools. The school interface is envisioned to take over the street and develop as an educational spine.
Forming courtyards around, the three heritage structures that are retained, guide the layouts of the school and become a part.
On the south, house10 facade is reinstated with cultural programs such as tea house and main lobby to the prayer hall. The courtyard acts as an extension to these public amenities.
Pre 1944 structures are re‐constructed behind the mosque and function as enclosed gardens with the sidewalk connecting them through. Accessible to public, these courts belong to city and do not have direct access to the mosque.
On the east, the colonnade continued north-south from the remaining standing structure, becomes the western end of the complex. All around, built thresholds work as discreet non-obtrusive controls, while providing shade and leisure.