Lebanese publishing house Kaph Books, established in 2016 in Beirut, has recently released a large compilation of buildings by renowned Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji, titled 'Rifat Chadirji Building Index'.
Edited by Mark Wasiuta and Akram Zaatari, the publication is a comprehensive collection of Chadirji's photographic folio, which records and analyses the development of his building practice.
Considered one of the major 20th century architects from Iraq and the Middle East, Chadirji, born in Baghdad in 1926, imbued his work with his innate understanding of authentic regional expression, as well as his appreciation for modernism and its principles.
Though he helped erect nearly 100 buildings, Chadirji’s contributions to the field of Middle Eastern architecture transcend tangible construction, including his work with the Baghdad School of Architecture, where he taught for years, and his photographic documentation of regional architecture between Iraq and Syria.
His work as a photographer was informed by his sense of Iraq’s political and cultural precariousness, while it foresaw greater disruption ahead, describes the book. Over a span of more than 20 years, Chadirji recorded the street-life, social practices and spaces that he believed were threatened by development and the forces driving Iraq’s postwar evolution. Over the same period, he meticulously photographed his own architectural work in an attempt to produce documents that could survive the damage, alteration and potential destruction of his buildings.
"It provides a unique insight into a collection of photographic sheets that reflect how an architect documented his own work, and coded, organised and referenced his projects using photography," said the publishers about the publication. "The documents, presented almost in their totality, show the range of projects that engaged Chadirji in Baghdad after his return in 1952, upon completing his studies in England, and until his departure from Iraq."
Rifat Chadirji Building Index is a co-edition with the Arab Image Foundation, and can be purchased through Kaph Books' online portal.