The Five-Thousand-Year Line

Mustafa Mora

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Header Image
The focal point of Qurna

Whether it be a branch of the arts or a relative of the sciences, evidence of geometry in architecture spans back as far as the cradle of civilisation. This thesis pursues the aesthetic of grace from ancient Mesopotamia through to contemporary Iraq, using both freehand and measured geometrical drawing techniques. The renowned architectural historian Robin Evans describes the state of projective geometry in architecture as ‘a continuous transformation of images...absconded and mercurial due to its shifting perspective’. By applying supportive theory on geometry and the intricacies of its representation, this thesis concentrates on the graceful curve, previously described as the ‘five-thousand-year old line’, found in the architecture of the Ma’dan (marsh Arab) communities of Southern Iraq. This project seeks to develop a contemporary structure based on historical geometries.

This thesis proposes a House of Wisdom for Qurna, a town at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Drawing inspiration from the 13th century Baghdad library, the House of Wisdom is an open environment for the enhancement of culture, history and knowledge. The building draws on the traditions and architectural language of the Ma’dan, including their reed huts and boats. The design aspires to be a beacon of hope for the region following their recent hardships, which include the displacement of the Ma’dan after the area’s marshlands were drained under Saddam Hussein

Left Image
The House of Wisdom from the marshes
Right Image
Projected Geometry

Over the past two decades there has been an exponential decay in the cultural, historical and environmental fabric of the Middle East which has led to its deteriorating reputation globally. This negative impression was the motivation behind this thesis. Hailing back to a time when the beauty and grace of the Middle East was acknowledged and admired, the resulting design is a place dedicated to the sharing of knowledge and the development of ideas in the Islamic world.

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Projected Geometry ii
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Projected Geometry iii
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Exhibition Space: The House of Wisdom