Q&A Series:  Second Interview with Sally Al Amili


As part of our Q&A Series, we've translated a second interview that Sally did on Iraqi TV in 2021 where she discusses the idea of development along the Tigris river.

Watch the original interview (external link on FaceBook).

What if the acres of unbuilt lands along the Tigris river invested in new projects? And how can we develop them to serve the people and promote tourism? We will talk about this with Senior Architect Sally Al Amili. Good morning.

Good morning. It’s my pleasure to be here with you and talk about this important subject.

At first, we all know the importance of this land because its located along with Tigris river, and why the land hasn't been developed or invested till now?

We all know that land aligned to rivers, seas or lakes are important locations and tourism destinations, because of the weather conditions, scenery and historical importance. So its recommended to use these lands for tourism or even to serve the local people by building resorts, hotels, restaurants, playgrounds, etc.


Where do you recommend to build the hotels, resorts, etc, in Baghdad or in other cities based on the weather conditions?

All the cities have large areas ready for these projects. In Baghdad, where there are no large areas available, we can build small projects like restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

In other cities we have large areas available to build resorts. And, there are many ways to challenge the hard weather climate.

All of these lands have soil with specific conditions, how we can prepare the soil before starting the construction?

Today with all the architectural/ structural development nothing is impossible. We can build whatever we want, wherever we want. We can build high-rise buildings also by using some structural systems with specific structural materials. And we can build small projects with limited budget as well. Nothing is impossible now in architecture.

The reason these areas are important are the location next to the river, the good weather and sometimes it might be a historical sight. So we have to use these locations to pull in tourism (from inside and outside the country), and we should first prepare those locations by building resorts, restaurants, hotels etc.

Which materials do you recommend using on these buildings (façade cladding)?

It depends on the location, and if it’s a historical area or not. We cannot use materials that do not match our architecture identity, but we can use new materials with specific techniques to save the architectural identity for these areas. For example, we cannot build high-rise buildings with modern materials in areas surrounded by historical sites.


You know we have many historical buildings/ houses, how can we renovate these buildings?

We must renovate these buildings carefully without losing their historical value. By using specific materials, maybe manufacture the original materials, or use new materials with the same look to be installed by crafted people who know how to install these materials without losing the identity.

How can we renovate these historical buildings?

We have to form specialized committees and teach them how to deal with historical building materials, elements and details. We cannot allow everybody to touch these buildings. They should be renovated by certified people who knows how to deal with the historical materials, elements and details.


Do you think we should do specific projects for each city based on the location, culture and weather?

The architect, when designing a project, should study all the project elements like the location, function, the environment, surroundings, etc. And for these types of projects, we should use professional people with experience.

When an architect designs a project, sometimes there are challenges, like sensitive surroundings (mosque, historical sites or private properties), limited area, or some specific requirements. What should you do?

On every single project we should consider the project location, area, surrounding and specific requirements, if any. We cannot design something that conflicts with them. We should study all the project elements before doing any design. That’s why architecture is a challenging field.

What do you think about the new building of the central bank in Baghdad on the Tigris river designed by Zaha Hadid?

I’m so excited for the new building, and it’s a pleasure to have a building designed by the most famous architect in the world, Zaha Hadid in Baghdad. It will be an architectural monument floating on the Tigris river.

Thank you Sally for being here with us. We enjoyed the conversation with you and we wish you all the best.

Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here and talk to you.

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Blog post written by:

Sally Al Amili
Senior Architectural Designer

Posted: October 23, 2023

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