Saleh Makiya (1914-2015) was born in Baghdad and educated in England, receiving his
BArch at Liverpool School of Architecture and a diploma in civic planning from
Liverpool University in 1941 and 1942, respectively. He completed his studies at Kings College,
Cambridge, earning his PhD in 1946. He
returned to Baghdad that same year and established Makiya Associates, an
architectural and planning consultancy practice. During the 1950s he designed houses and
commercial buildings and became increasingly aware of the heritage of Iraqi
architecture. Dr. Makiya was one of the
original founders of the Department of Architecture at the College of
Engineering, Baghdad University, in 1959.
He remained head of the department until 1968. During subsequent years, Makiya Associates
offices were established in Bahrain, Oman, London, Kuwait, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and
The works and ideas of Mohamed Makiya and his firm
have been investigated in numerous books and articles, and examined and explored
in conferences and exhibitions, including an international conference on
Baghdad architectural heritage held in early 2013 at the University of
Baghdad. The conference was part of the
events of “Baghdad, Arab Capital of Culture for the Year 2013”, sponsored
through a partnership between the University of Baghdad, Ifpo (the French
Institute of the Near East), and the UNESCO Office for Iraq.
Makiya’s contributions to the fields of
architecture and urbanism and, in particular, his sophisticated incorporation
of traditional forms into modern architecture, cannot be overstated. His work embodies ideas of urban conservation,
regionalism in form, and continuity of architectural heritage; ideas which continue
to younger generations of architects throughout the Middle East.
In 1984, Makiya Associates entered a design competition for new headquarters and offices (diwan) for the Amir of Dubai. While the design was never built, it was well received in the competition.1
The site for the proposed diwan was along Dubai Creek near the historic Bastakiyya neighborhood, in close proximity to the ruler’s extant offices. The design took this extant office into consideration, following its axis and linking to it with a bridge. The main government building is closest to the extant office, situated at the north end of the complex along the waterfront: the most private and exclusive zone. The public government buildings were situated further south on the main axis of the new building, which encompassed two courtyards and included a projecting octagonal assembly hall attached to the west side of the building. The design also takes into consideration the waterfront and the city beyond, introducing vistas into courtyards through apertures created by the architecture.
Like many Makiya Associates buildings, the design of the Diwan drew purposefully on concepts evident in the historical architecture of the region to inflect the modern, global style. One such principle was simplicity of form, which the designer suggests relies on “spaces clearly defined within the composition, without ambiguity.”2
Makiya, Post-Islamic Classicism, 155.
Makiya Associates, Design Report. Section 1: "Ideology and Architectural Philosophy."
Makiya Associates. Design Report: The Diwan of H.H. The Ruler of Dubai. London: Makiya Associates, 1984.
Makiya, Kanan. Post-Islamic Classicism: A Visual Essay on the Architecture of Mohamed Makiya. London: Saqi, 1990.