Egyptian architects win competition to design reconstruction of Mosul's Al Nuri Mosque

The 12th-century mosque and its famous leaning minaret were destroyed by ISIS in 2017

Mosul’s Al Nuri Mosque. Courtesy of UAE Ministry of Culture
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A team of eight Egyptian architects won an international competition to provide the design for the reconstruction of the 12th-century Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, which was destroyed by ISIS.

The UAE is funding the Revive the Spirit of Mosul project launched by the UN's cultural agency, Unesco, to rebuild Mosul's historic landmarks.

The project will restore Al Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret, as well as Al Saa’a Monastery and the 800-year-old Al Tahera church, among others.

"The reconstruction of Al Nuri Mosque complex, a historical site that is part of Mosul’s fabric and history, will be a landmark in the process of advancing the war-torn city’s reconciliation and social cohesion," said Audrey Azoulay, Unesco's director general.

"Heritage sites and historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging, of community and identity. They are key to reviving the spirit of Mosul and of Iraq as a whole."

The winning design, called Courtyards Dialogue, beat 123 other entries.

It includes rebuilding the mosque's historic prayer hall and the organic integration of the complex – the largest public space in the Old City of Mosul – in its urban surrounding through open public spaces with five entry points from surrounding streets, Unesco said.

While the prayer hall will look as it did before its destruction in 2017, it will feature notable improvements in the use of natural light, and expanded spaces for women and dignitaries.

It will connect to the main hall through a semi-covered open structure that could also serve as an open space for prayer, Unesco said.

Enclosed gardens will evoke the "historic houses and gardens that were located around the prayer hall prior to its remodelling in 1944".

The winning architects will now produce a more detailed design, with a view to starting to build in late autumn 2021.

They receive a $50,000 prize and will be awarded the contract for the detailed design of the complex.

"The selection of the winning design under the international competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al Nuri Mosque complex is a significant milestone under the 'Revive the Spirit of Mosul' initiative," said Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE Minister of Culture and Youth.

epa06041871 (FILE) - People walk in front of the Al-Noori Al-Kabeer mosque in Mosul, Iraq, 09 July 2014 (reissued 21 June 2017). According to media reports on 21 June 2017 citing Iraq's military, the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret have been destroyed by members of the Islamic State militant group. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Sunni extremist group IS appeared for the first time in public at the mosque to declared caliphate on 04 July 2014.  EPA/STR *** Local Caption *** 53599216
The Great Mosque of Al Nuri in Mosul, pictured in July 2014. EPA

"In 2018, the UAE took the lead and joined Unesco on this historic endeavour, inspired by the history and legacy of Mosul and the resilience and strength of its people.

"Reaching this important milestone has brought us closer to the realisation of a shared commitment to restore social cohesion and a spirit of fraternity and tolerance in Mosul once again."

The winning team includes Salah El Din Samir Hareedy, Khaled Farid El-Deeb, Sherif Farag Ebrahim, Tarek Ali Mohamed, Noha Mansour Ryan, Hager Abdel Ghani Gad, Mahmoud Saad Gamal and Yousra Muhamed El-Baha.

“Our team worked with high passion to submit a project that primarily addresses the need for social cohesion and revival of souls," they said.

"We are looking forward to completing the design and to helping the revival of the Old City of Mosul."

The runners-up, from India, receive $30,000. A prize of $20,000 goes to an entry from Spain while $15,000 is awarded to a team in the US.

A team of architects from the UAE, France, Turkey and Lebanon receive $10,000.

The competition was co-ordinated with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Iraqi Sunni Endowment.