Imagining a new Mosul, the fate of Moscow's tower blocks, a new wave of female Cambodian activists

    by Best of the Week
    Wednesday, 1 November 2017 12:55 GMT

A devotee looks at the camera as she offers prayers to the setting sun during the "Chhath" festival at Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

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The city of Mosul was captured by IS militants in June 2014, becoming the group’s de-facto second city.

Just over three years later, in July, after the world’s largest urban battle since World War II, Mosul was liberated. An aerial bombing campaign and vicious house-to-house fighting left the east of the city half destroyed. Almost nothing remained of the west.

To remove booby traps left by IS and rebuild the city will cost an estimated $50 billion over five years.

To highlight the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Mosul, the Tamayouz Excellence Award invited architects and designers from around the world to imagine a new Mosul that can support the almost 1 million displaced people expected to return following years of conflict and destruction.

The final proposals offer an enlightening look at how we can balance the opportunities afforded by a blank canvas and the responsibilities to survivors of conflict, along with the need to suitably remember victims.

The winner of the Rifat Chadirji Prize, named after the Iraqi architect and author, was Anna Otlik of Wroclaw, who imagined a matrix of modular homes, based on traditional designs, that could grow organically from a grid system as the displaced return to their homes and the city re-populates.

A runner-up proposal envisions the rebuilding of five bridges across the River Tigris – this time as inhabited, farmable structures that can support sustainable agriculture as well as the city’s transport needs.

Other designs incorporate the detritus of the conflict more intimately – building on top of rubble to create a multi-level city space, or transforming the subterranean tunnel system built by IS into a metro network.

-Ruairi Casey

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