Basra Cultural Center

Basra, Iraq
Brought to life via an international design competition held by the Basra Governorate, the Basra Culture Palace symbolises Iraq's future aspirations and celebrates Basra's rich heritage. Envisioned as the city's cultural heart, the building will host a diverse variety of events and festivals throughout the year.

The Culture Palace will be built near Shatt Al Basra, within the new administrative complex that also houses the new headquarters of the Basra Governorate. It will utilise the latest in sound and lighting technology, and conform to contemporary architectural codes of design, efficiency, sustainability, safety and security. However, it will also unmistakably convey Basra's proud heritage and visual legacy, while portraying a bright and prosperous image of the city around it.

The iconic design is inspired by Arabic calligraphy and the way in which it encloses empty spaces with artistic strokes to create meaning and value. Diagonal openings in the building's façade represent the dots in Arabic calligraphy – spreading across the main elevation they gradually decrease in size as they get closer to the main entrance, which is in fact an empty space.

This remarkable void is the focal point of the Palace's architectural and engineering composition. It cuts a liberating path through the peripheral buildings to create an intangible yet inspirational core that connects everything and everyone – figuratively and literally. Sequential ramps – linked on different levels – connect the two halves of the Palace for seamless access (complementing the elevators and escalators inside each building).

The graded curvilinear architectural elements that enclose the edges of the void are inspired by the pages of an open book. Ornamental designs, calligraphy and poetry decorate these "pages" to commemorate the cultural role played by Basra throughout history.
  • Type: Public
  • Location: Basra, Iraq
  • Client: Basra Governorate
  • Plot size: 15,275 Sqm
  • Built-up area: 20,868 Sqm