Al-Nouri Mosque: Rehabilitation through Reconstruction

In November 2020, UNESCO launched an international design competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al-Nouri Mosque complex in Mosul, Iraq. An international jury has now announced the winning design entry by eight Egyptian architects. The new design project is a major component of UNESCO’s ambitious project for the rehabilitation of the ancient city, Revive the Spirit of Mosul.

Selected from among 123 entries, the winning design for a “Courtyards Dialogue,” as the winning project is called, was presented by eight Egyptian architects led by Salah El Din Samir Hareedy.

The architects, with a focus on historic preservation, urban planning and climate-based architecture, will now prepare a more detailed design for the reconstruction of the Al-Nouri complex with a view to starting construction in late fall 2021.

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The project foresees the reconstruction of Al-Nouri’s historic prayer hall and the organic integration of the complex, the largest public space in the Old City of Mosul, in its urban surrounding through open public spaces with five entry points from surrounding streets.

Reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque: “Historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging”

“The reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque complex, a historical site that is part of Mosul’s fabric and history, will be a landmark in the process of advancing the war-torn city’s reconciliation and social cohesion,” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay. “Heritage sites and historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging, of community, and identity. They are key to reviving the spirit of Mosul and of Iraq as a whole.”

Open space for prayer

While the prayer hall will look as it did before the 2017 destruction of Al-Nouri Mosque, it will feature notable improvements in the use of natural light and expanded spaces for women and dignitaries, that will connect to the main hall through a semi covered open structure which could also serve as an open space for prayer.

The winning project further foresees the creation of enclosed gardens evocative of the historic houses and gardens that were located around the prayer hall prior to its remodelling in 1944. Upon notification of their winning, the team issued a statement welcoming the results of the competition saying “Our team worked with high passion to submit a project that primarily addresses the need for social cohesion and revival of souls. We are looking forward to completing the design and to helping the revival of the Old City of Mosul.” The design is supported by a $50,000 prize.

Rehabilitation of the historical fabric of the Old city of Mosul

The international design competition for the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Al-Nouri complex in Mosul was launched in November 2020 by UNESCO. The competition was prepared in close coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Iraqi Sunni Endowment, with the support of the United Arab Emirates, all of them members of the Joint Steering Committee of the project. This reconstruction of the Al-Nouri Complex is part of UNESCO’s flagship initiative Revive the Spirit of Mosul, which was launched in 2018 and concerns the rehabilitation of the historical fabric of the Old city of Mosul, the revival of the city’s cultural life, and the strengthening of its educational system to ensure quality education for all.

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Text Credits: UNESCO Press release No.2021-35