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Rifat Chadirji Archive

Identifier: AKDC-2016-0001

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Scope and Contents

This collection includes a large portion of the extant architectural drawings and designs of the late Iraqi architect, Rifat Chadirji (December 6, 1926 – April 10, 2020), and some of the work of his architectural firm, Iraq Consult.

Included are works from throughout his career, from original student drawing compositions from 1950-1951 through to the last planning project in Baghdad with which he was involved circa 1982. Many of the drawings are pencil or ink on tissue, drawing paper, vellum, film, transparencies, or constructed of mixed materials, or they are photo-mechanical copies, or other prints, such as diazotypes, or transparencies, or microfilm of earliest professional project drawings. The originals of most, or perhaps all of the project drawings recorded on microfilm, were destroyed at the time they were microfilming in Baghdad prior to 1980.

The whole collection of materials was received directly from Rifat Chadirji from London, after the materials were retrieved from Baghdad. They departed Baghdad in two groups, the first crate contained boxes 3 through 10. The second batch, boxes 1 and 2, which had been separated from the other boxes and arrived from London almost a year later than the first delivery.

Many of the drawings were in fairly good to very good condition, still flexible and not too discolored due to exposure or staining. However, there were various condition issues due to the lack of climate control for most of 35 years. Damages included various amounts of brittleness, various tears, from many tiny ones to some measuring several inches, to a very few drawings with very large rips. Some items are wrinkled, have folds, stains, dirt, losses to varying degrees.

There was a large batch of smaller (circa 17 x 22 inch) drawings received in an extremely fragile state. They had suffered serious water damage and ended up dried, but in a single block of layers of drawings with wrinkles and air pockets throughout which had become extremely brittle, and layers seem to be impossible to separate without crumbling the sheets. The content of these drawings is unknown, and cannot be determined except possibly after humidification or other conservation treatment.

The entire collection was accepted en masse, every item was kept meaning none of the materials were separated or not retained by the Aga Khan Documentation Center. This means that any gaps in representation or years of work that exist arrived to this repository to that level of completeness. The gaps of in the material in this collection is incidental, it is not complete, we have what we received.

There are sketches, drafts, proposals, competition submissions, working progress or sets of drawings, and more formal finished works. Represented in the drawings are the wide variety of building types, and projects, on which Rifat Chadirji worked on, many of them built. The locations are predominantly in Iraq, with probably the majority from in or near Baghdad, but also projects with sites across Iraq, Erbil, Faluja, Mosul, being only three examples. Some are projects which have building sites in many districts of Iraq for infrastructure developments such as grain silos. Other drawings are for work planned or constructed in areas of the United Kingdom, the Middle East, including Lebanon, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Represented in the drawings are residential buildings, from single family homes designed for specific clients, and multi-unit buildings, to palaces. There are monuments and memorials, business/commercial office buildings, government agencies, educational, libraries, mosques, professional organizations, recreational sports complexes theatre’s, and other entertainment sites represented in the collection.


  • Creation: 1950s - 1990s


Language of Materials

Approximately a half of the materials (drawings) in the Rifat Chadirji Archive are in Arabic. English is the language used otherwise, or in addition to Arabic.

Conditions Governing Access

This collections is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Rifat Chadirji (December 6, 1925 - April 10, 2020), is one of the most influential Iraqi architects of the 20th century. He was also an accomplished photographer, author, teacher, and critic. Chadirji was born in Baghdad in 1926, was educated in the UK, and returned to Iraq upon graduating as an active participant in the modernization of the country, working with notable architects and designers from Europe, the United States, and Iraq including, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, and Mohamed Makiya. Chadirji has dedicated his life to the search for an appropriate contemporary architectural expression synthesizing elements of the rich Islamic cultural heritage with key principles of the international architecture of the 20th century. Chadirji believes that architecture’s future lies in lessons learned from its past. His designs are transformations of regional forms that seek to express, by means of abstraction, the construction technologies in almost universal use today, while affirming the aesthetic values. In 1986, Mr. Chadirji received an Aga Khan Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievements. In 2015, Chadirji was awarded the Tamayouz Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that celebrates the pioneers of Iraqi architecture and is “presented annually to an individual who has had a significant contribution towards the advancement of architecture in Iraq.” With this gift, the Center becomes the repository for archives of three leading pioneers of modern architecture in Iraq: Mohamed Makiya, Hisham Munir, and, now, Rifat Chadirji.

Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D. Program Head, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT Cambridge, MA Author, 7 January 2017

Betsy Baldwin, MLIS, CA Collections Archivist, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT Updater, 10 January 2020


40 Linear Feet (Architectural drawings and prints, and maps make up the vast majority of this archive. Well over a half of this resource is not in final housing or containers. Some materials are currently in flat boxes, other materials are in variously sized files, or in various types and sizes of tubes or boxes for rolled materials. Therefore, total linear feet can only be estimated, currently.) : Circa 1500 original and/or copies of architectural and urban planning drawings, maps, photographs, prints, and Boxed numbered limited edition sets of etchings of drawings (12) and photographs (8). 7 mounted photographs, and circa 5 large loose photographic prints. ; Graphic material dimensions vary from letter size or smaller, to a 2-piece map, 12 x 8 feet. Boxed sets are circa 1 x 22 x 24 inches. Photographs are circa 8 x 10 inches and mounted on board. Large loose unmounted photographs are circa 16 x 20 inches.

Rifat Chadirji Archive
Architectural drawings, prints, and maps of Rifat Chadirji, and several photographs by his father Kamil Chadirji
Elisabeth Baldwin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
This is a DRAFT, work on it is in progress, published on April 13, 2020

Revision Statements

  • April 2020: Drafting, editing, adjustments, and/or completion needed of multiple elements.

Repository Details

Part of the Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries Repository

Cambridge US