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papalampropoulos syriopoulou

Al Nouri Mosque complex central courtyard


Status: International Architectural Competition / HONORARY MENTION / UNESCO, Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Iraqi Sunni Endowment
Program: Rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Mosque Complex
Year: 2021
Location: Mosul, Iraq
Architect: Leonidas Papalampropoulos, Georgia Syriopoulou

Team: Lampros Papalampropoulos (Architect), Alexandros Karageorgos (Structural Engineer)

Students of Architecture: Natalia Sotirchou (University of Patras), Elena Chrissochoedou (University of Patras)


Historical evolution of the Al Nouri complex from 1900 to the present state of destruction (UNESCO)


The brief of the competition requested the rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Mosque in Mosul along with the design of an educational and religious cultural complex in the context of the wider reconstruction of the historic centre of Mosul which has been left in ruins since the period 2014-17, when the city experienced dramatic street battles that resulted in thousends of dislocated people and important cultural and religious monuments destroyed.

Historical discontinuities in the social and spatial entities articulate the palimpsest of the Old city of Mosul as the main canvas of the area’s regeneration. In order to restore the collective memory the design tries to interpret the “genius loci” of the place by establishing a kind of architectural discourse between the different points of view as they are represented in contradictory dipoles (past-future, memory-oblivion, tradition – progress, nature- artificiality, openness-enclosure ).



The notion of the type is used as the main conceptual tool in order to translate the dialectical method into architectural form. The type can be seen as a framework in which change operates by defining a set of similarities between different objects in time and space that construct a field of possibilities. At the same time the design process tries to interpret the type’s relative ambiguity into the specific context by altering, modifying and distorting its form in order to establish historical and spatial continuities. Progress is not considered as a rupture but rather as an evolution process into the specific framework provided by the type.    

Al Nouri complex axonometric
Al Nouri complex conceptual diagram
The Sahn


Τhe vernacular type of the enclosed courtyard is used as a citation for the design process. The ambiguity of the interior-exterior quality of the space is adopted as the design principle of the project: the complex engulfs the public void as an open-air room, by introducing the notion of intimacy as an active agent in the performance of the social life and the establishment of a sense of place. Thus, the condition of enclosure is disconnected from the notion of accessibility: the open air room do not consist of an architecture of seclusion, rather it attributes to the public space the necessary sense of intimacy and familiarity that can allow for the performance of the social functions.

Rather than trying to invent a new typology the design distorts and re-interprets its main architectural components:

- the Riwaq, a system of galleries in the form of a habitable wall enclose the central courtyard

- the program (library - offices - administrationablutions) is distributed into its mass (Albab).
- the portico indicates the building entrance and forms a transitional space where public movement intersects with the open-air room.

The Gesture of the enclosure creates a transitional space between the Room and the City. Each function (Secondary School, Institute, Festivities Hall) is grouped as a cluster of satellite volumes similar in size and scale in order to respect the size and proportions imposed by the presence and the significance of the Prayer Hall.

Al Nouri complex masterplan


Al Nouri east-west passage

View fo the  west-east passage to the central courtyard

Al Nouri prayer hall

View fo the  Al Nouri Prayer Hall from the central courtyard

Al Nouri Complex plan
Al Nouri section
Al Nouri Higher Institute of Islamic Art & Architecture

The library of the Higher Institute of Islamic Art and Architecture

Al Nouri Festivities Hall

The Festivities Hall

Al Nouri Prayer Hall from the Great Mosque str

View of the Prayer Hall from the Great Mosque str, the south-east entrance in the foreground

Al Nouri west-east entrance

Entrance to the west-east passage to the central courtyard

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