The Impact of Intellectual Ideologies in Shaping the Urban Townscape from the Middle Ages to the Contemporary: The City of Baghdad Between Yesterday and Today

The Impact of Intellectual Ideologies in Shaping the Urban Townscape from the Middle Ages to the Contemporary: The City of Baghdad Between Yesterday and Today

Mahmood Hussein Al-Musawi Neda Khalil Ibrahim Al-arabSabaa Mujtaba Abdulwahid 

Faculty of Physical Planning, University of Kufa, Najaf 54001, Iraq

Architectural Engineering Department, University of Technology, Baghdad 10053, Iraq

Engineering Technical College of Basrah, Southern Technical University, Basrah 61001, Iraq

Corresponding Author Email:
25 June 2022
6 October 2022
31 October 2022
| Citation



Intellectual ideological transformations affect the formation of the townscape, which in turn affects the narratives of the townscape constantly, as cities undergo various transformations, including natural and sudden forced ones, through economic and social processes; accompanied by structural changes in its urban scenes to a different formal model, reflecting the spirit of the age. The townscape is the reflective text that highlights the city in the form of a serial vision and scenes that carry the effects of the past and simulate the era, where the townscape is basically built through successive visions. The research deals with the difference in the concept of intellectual ideals from the Renaissance era based on perspective and artistic concepts to technology-based aesthetics in the international style, as this led to a change in the integrated coherent scene (the traditional scene) to the technology-based scene (the technological scene), and the latest discontinuity in the narrative of the story line. The landscape in urban city centers has both intellectual and physical levels. The discontinuity occurs in the townscape at the intellectual and material levels, when the concept of aesthetics and ideals varies in different periods of time. The research aims to study the impact of the entry of different intellectual trends (ideals of each era) on the townscape, in Al-Rasheed Street in Baghdad, during different periods of time. And reading the state of interruption in the scene and its impact on the perception of the recipient.


narratives of the urban townscape, ideals and ideologies, city centers, the Renaissance, modernity, postmodernity, Al-Rasheed Street

1. Introduction

The various phenomena and structures in reality and nature are subject to interruption, and the contemporary townscape today is the image of social, economic and environmental changes, heterogeneity on these two sides, and the state of interruption to which the townscape has been exposed. The townscape today constitutes and reflects a mirror of history and the natural, cultural and urban processes generated by intellectual currents, producing sites of a hybrid character in the townscape, such as the degraded and fragmented spaces within the urban fabric or within the city limits – the areas in between, infrastructures, and river front. The relationship between neo-architecture and the historical context in cities is a common phenomenon. During the processes of various changes in cities, new architecture replaces the old. This process somehow renews the city's image. But sometimes it leads to a rupture of the scene or an intellectual disconnection from its neighborhood, due to the intellectual transformations and ideals of the era that clearly occur in the townscape as a result of the requirements of the times. The paper has discussed these aspects regarding transformations in intellectual ideologies in townscape in a traditional urban fabric in Baghdad.

2. Literature Review

2.1 The urban townscape in (the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) 

During the 14th century, a cultural movement called Humanism began to gain momentum in Italy. Among its many principles, humanism promoted the idea that man is the center of his own world, and people should embrace human achievements in education, classical arts, literature and sciences where humanistic and artistic ideology prevailed and the spread of the arts had a clear impact on the visual landscape [1].

In the Middle Ages, Christianity was centered with the church as the dominant visual and central focus in the skyline and scenery. While the Renaissance showed the strong contrast between the old urban fabric of the Middle Ages and the new urban mesh fabric of the Renaissance, as art formulation began to appear on the urban fabric and townscape in cities during the Renaissance. While the architectural historian Tafuri indicated that the interruption appeared at first in the Renaissance through the contradiction between the old traditions and the traditions of the Renaissance, all of this interruption due to the adoption of an ideology that contradicts the ideology of the Middle Ages. Where the place and the scene became a symbol of reason and the concept of humanity and aesthetics with the adoption of the classical system [2].

During the Renaissance, the use of classical forms was an essential part of shaping the visual townscape because it visually linked recipients to an aesthetic that embraced a variety of social and political ideologies )as shown in Table 1), linking the past with the present. These visible ideologies allowed recipients to associate themselves with established social and political forces (think, in the broadest sense, Greek democracy). Thus, the visual ideologies embodied in the facades played an important role in the process of self-identity within the larger urban setting [3]. The concept of symmetry originated in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance. From the beginning it was associated with belief; that the shapes of nature are symmetrical and that nothing can be beautiful unless it also has a symmetrical shape. The free and visually complex textures of the Middle Ages were also replaced by the solid, symmetrical and immediately understandable forms of the Renaissance Garden. Since the Renaissance, the authority and scope of the symmetry criterion has continued to expand. And Alberti was one of the most prominent theorists of the Renaissance, that is the design of the facade was based on the classical theories of proportionality that Alberti himself revived [4].

The Renaissance saw scientific discoveries and an interest in the arts as the concept of perspective and formality was discovered in art and reflected in urban scenes. Where rulers beautified cities through artistic concepts, revived the classical style, and used artists to draw on walls, especially churches, palaces and castles, with interest in designing statues, fountains, and organizing squares. The concept of the axis of symmetry became the basis for the design of squares and arenas, and the adoption of the concept of symmetry as a basis for organizing city sectors, and diagonal and radial roads were adopted in the axes. The streets were also characterized by perspective scenes based on the idea of perspective and boulevards with interest in afforestation and proportional heights. One of the features of the city was the removal of walls and their transformation into wide streets and parks, where the urban townscape was characterized by geometric order, wide streets and attention to squares [5].

Table 1. Main concepts of the Middle Ages and the renaissance


Main concept



Medieval ideology and ideals

Religious Ideology: Christianity centered on the dominance of religion and the church over societal circles

Characteristics of the visual scene (medieval)

Where the church represented the dominant visual and central focus in the line of sky and scenery, and the space was organized on an economic basis


Ideology and ideals of the Renaissance

The emergence of the cultural movement (humanism): that man is the center of the universe, and people must embrace human achievements in education, classical arts, literature and sciences, where human and artistic ideology prevailed and the arts spread

Characteristics of the visual scene (medieval)

The scene reflects a symbol of reason and the concept of humanity and aesthetics

The contradiction between the ancient traditions and the traditions of the Renaissance, all this disconnection due to the adoption of an ideology that contradicts the ideology of the Middle Ages

Adoption of pure geometric shapes

The concept of symmetry and the concept of the axis of symmetry became the basis for the design of squares and arenas

Revival of Classical Style / Facade design based on classical theories of proportion

Interest in the visual arts: discovering the concept of perspective and imagery in art and its reflection in the scenes

The use of artists to draw on the walls, especially churches, palaces and castles, with interest in the design of statues, fountains, and the organization of squares

Perspective concepts and boulevards with interest in afforestation and proportional heights

Table 2. Main concepts of the modern architecture


Main concept



Modern architecture ideology and ideals

Man: The individual’s deviation from the center of his world and the breaking of his ties with the past (the global existence of the human being that is not determined by place or time). The modern movement excluded the role of man as a designer, builder or consumer, from the field of architecture and the city with the invention of new machines and construction materials and the emergence of the architectural revolution and liberation from everything with the concept of emphasizing the global

The call for modernization and keeping pace with technical and intellectual development (the knowledge explosion)

Detachment from the past and identity and the call for an ideal utopia

Characteristics of the townscape in modern architecture

Provide architectural independence

Uniqueness of expression and high-rise buildings in the city center

Technical repetition of clear geometric shapes marked by window rows. Emphasis on purity and uniformity in the application of sizes, materials and colors

Single buildings (bubbles): the creation of individual buildings in the historic center (designing objects in urban space)

The open space that surrounds the building makes it appear as an exceptional object that can be clearly seen from different angles.

Contradiction with the adjacent context; contrasting with the previous product

Ignoring historical traditions

The quest for technical quality: Using glass, steel, concrete, and new ideas in architecture and the urban landscape.

Artists such as Piero Della Francesca shaped their ideal cities in paintings, architects such as Biagio Rossetti and Bernardo Rossellino sought to implement these new ideas of humanism in the actual cities of Italy. The emergence of humanism in the late Middle Ages in Italy was the main reason for the re-endorsement of classicism in the design of the building. Renaissance Humanism was a movement in thought, literature, and art, marked by a revival of interest in the classical world that focused not on religion, as was the norm in the Middle Ages, but on what it meant to be human. The buildings in the Renaissance period showed the classic proportions of length and height [6].

2.2 Urban townscape in modern architecture and urban design

Modernity is defined as a concept that is contrary to heritage, and it is a tendency towards renewal and change and keeping pace with technical and intellectual development. Modernity relied on two important aspects, namely rationality and the explosion of knowledge, and it has an essence that is the overwhelming hostility to the civilized past [7]. Modernity is a connective, communicative and separatist movement at the same time, so that every newcomer and modern is born from the womb of the past of the nation, and it seeks to develop, modernize and integrate it relatively or completely in light of the possibility of abandoning it, and modernity is also a conscious rupture and is aware of its time, place and purpose [8]. The radical change is the era of the Industrial Revolution, where the emergence of new materials such as glass, concrete, the emergence of new construction methods, as well as technological developments such as railways, trains, elevators, combustion engines and cars, and the emergence of the need for new buildings (hotels, hospitals, industrial establishments) [9]. Where the CIAM organization called for a document of standards for planning cities and defining their problems as a result of the industrial revolution and how to overcome them and called for neighborhoods free from the problems of the industrial revolution such as ventilation, light, transportation, afforestation and green cover.

Among the most important characteristics of urban space design (as shown in Table 2): A healthy environment, healthier buildings, that the urban space accommodates cars, a design philosophy adopted from the inside out to reflect the function and its response to the spirit of the age (that is, there is a kind of discontinuity with the past and radicality from history) as it appeared in a period after in 1945, the concept of urban renewal and redevelopment, as the new redevelopment policy was in the form of zoning and isolation of certain activities. The following are the stages that modernity architecture has gone through and the stages of transformation from an urban point of view.

In the first stage; the transformations in urban form related to (modes of transport), railways, transport and automobiles. Bochart classified the eras in which urban space was changed into five stages: Pre-1830 railways / small human scales, the period of the emergence of trains 1830-1870, when distances between cities and work increased Which called for the extension of railways, 1870-1920, the era of the first wheeled automobile, the development of automobiles and the introduction of fuel, 1920-1970 [10]. In the second stage, the transformations appeared in the industrial cities to the post-industrial and the movement of workers to the neighborhoods where the mines abound [10]. In the third stage, these were represented by the post-industrial revolution transformations at the beginning of the sixties of the twentieth century, including: The development of transportation centers, the emergence of highways linking workplaces and housing, the emergence of suburban cities, the beginning of neglecting the center and moving from one centralization to urban poly centric planning concepts, and in the fourth stage, new concepts began to appear in urban space with the advent of the industrial revolution, including computer networks, and control of them is through central spaces and monitors the urban street, as the city moved from the space controlled by surveillance systems to the cyber system, and transformed ordinary cities into smart cities [10].

From all of the foregoing, an important motive emerges is the possession of land and the emergence of ideas during the forties to the seventies of the last century as a result of going through conditions (diseases, wars, economic crises, etc.) that led to a transformation in the city townscape through its planning and design and the emergence of new urban patterns that led to the difference and change in urban character, new jobs emerged, important economic changes led to a change in the urban and physical character of many areas in cities, especially in historical areas, as a spatial effect of changing urban patterns.

2.3 The urban townscape in (postmodern and contemporary architecture and urban design)

(Al-Atta) addressed the most important theories of postmodern urbanism according to its chronology, the first of which was the theory of city design with technical characteristics of (Camilo Sitte's), where (Sitte) proposals indicated an emphasis on the development of the urban townscape of the city, which was directed towards the generation of distinctive urban hubs in the city enriches its urban townscape, and it is worth noting that it did not accept the entry of modern and technological elements in the design of cities. The second is (Gordon Cullen), where he focused on the visual perception and the philosophy of the movement of the urban townscape, and considered that the adoption of the "Serial Vision" mechanism within the two elements (the square and the urban axis), of the city is of great importance in the formation of its urban townscape, and attention must be paid to all content of the context. Because they details with the urban townscape, scale, texture, materials, style of facades, curves, closures, and visual orientation points. The third is the new rationality of (Aldo Rossi): Where Rossi stated that the city should be studied and evaluated as a model built over time, the city remembers its past through our collective memory, and this memory is used in the monuments that give the city its structure. The fourth is the new rationality of (Leon & Rob Krier): Where (Krier) called for stereotyping in urban space and emphasizing the importance of squares, and streets because of their importance in the formation of the total urban space of the city, and also stressed the importance of the urban townscape of the urban edges of the city fabric and its axes [11]. Postmodernism was based on the fact that form follows form and is independent of function, that is, beauty exists by itself. The trend began towards considering buildings as carrying symbolic moral values independent of their designer and functions, and Venturi referred to (new empiricism) and to local architecture instead of global architecture (the presence of the past). It searches for the richness and ambiguity of the meaning instead of its clarity, and the appropriateness of contradictions [12], and with the beginning of the sixth decade, the trends of postmodern architecture appeared to confirm communication with the place [13]. The change in the image of the city is clear in contemporary architecture from that put forward by Lynch, as the informatics has done its work on the city’s core. Today’s buildings and architectural monuments are linked to the workplace in contemporary life based on information technology (as shown in Table 3), Internet cafes and electronic chat rooms. Through the results of the research, it was addressed that the contemporary intellectual trends represented by sustainability and information technology play a major role in drawing the dramatic and influential picture of the urban townscape, and contribute to enhancing the aesthetic and uniqueness of the scene as well as creating a state of diversity for buildings and places to break the monotony and boredom of the similar shapes that endowed the buildings of the city center [14].

Table 3. Main concepts of the post modernism and contemporary architecture


Main concept



Post modernism ideology and ideals

It is an intellectual style that rejects many of the central tenets of modern Western rationality; they believe in intellectual pluralism

The call for local architecture instead of global architecture: The presence of the past.

Architecture is a civilized and historical response, not a case of selecting historical elements

The form follows the form and is independent of the function, meaning that the beauty exists by itself, confirming the connection with the place

Producing an architecture that achieves identity: Producing an architecture that meets the requirements of modern life and the requirements of contemporary construction

Characteristics of the visual scene (post modernism)

• Partial or full copying: simplified reproduction of some elements

Complexity and diversity

Adoption of the "Serial Vision" mechanism

Pay attention to all context content

Use of collective memory (the monuments that give the city its structure)

Attention to urban edges

Historicism: a return to traditional urban forms (instead of a modernist belief in the supremacy of new forms). Attention to historical and cultural references

Locality and lack of innovation and expression of the spirit of the times


Ideology and ideals of the contemporary architecture

Heading towards technological sustainability and the impact of informatics and information technology and the influence of dynamism through the process of producing shape on the manufacture and construction of the building

Characteristics of the visual scene (contemporary architecture)

Ecological townscape: Emphasizing the ecological role of urban townscapes, ecology, energy, climate change, and the water crisis

Change in shapes and surfaces as a result of digital and technological development

Producing new meanings that link technology, production, and the aesthetic of formal complexity

Developing the city's performance through the use of simulation programs and emphasizing the sustainability of resources

Thus, the development of the urban townscape during the time periods can be summarized according to the following scheme (Figure 1):

Figure 1. The aesthetics of the urban townscape during the time periods

Al-Rasheed Street was chosen as a case study in the research, because it is located in the center of the historical city of Baghdad, which witnessed many urban transformations with the acceleration of times. Where Al-Rasheed Street witnessed special attention to its urban and historical position, as it represents the lively urban image of the city of Baghdad, as it is the mirror of it.

3. Case Study (Al-Rasheed Street in Baghdad)

The research provides a description of the study area selected for the historical district of Al-Rasheed Street as an important part of the historical center of Baghdad:

Al-Waeli mentioned that Al-Rasheed Street Road is considered a strip field due to its importance within the urban environment, besides being a connecting corridor, Al-Rasheed Street is distinguished by its unique architecture, its colonnaded porticos, and the fragrant heritage it carries, which constitutes an element with enormous potential, and that Baghdad needs to restore the pulse to its heart, which needs someone to restore life and vitality, and this is what everyone feels in the city center today through Al-Rashid Street, so he feels a mixture of longing and nostalgia for the past, regret for the present and fear for the future [15].

As for Al-Omari's study, it was reported that since the mid-thirties near the end of the eighties, the crowded commercial use area in central Baghdad has doubled, with commercial activity remaining in the area between the Tigris River and Al-Rasheed Street within the old style of historical markets [16]. While another study mentioned that one of the most important additions to the map of Baghdad was the "new street" that was opened at the end of the Ottoman era on the eastern side of Baghdad (Al-Rashid Street) now [17].

3.1 The historical phases that Al-Rasheed Street went through (historical description)

The research provides a description of the study area selected for the historical district of Al-Rasheed Street as an important part of the historical center of Baghdad:

3.1.1 The first phase (the emergence of Al-Rasheed Street)

Al-Rasheed Street is considered one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Baghdad, where the beginnings of the street go back to at least 1915 [18, 19]. As shown in Figure 3, during the Ottoman rule, the street was known as (Khalil Pasha Gadi Si Street) after the governor of Baghdad and the commander of the Ottoman army Khalil Pasha to facilitate the movement of the Ottoman army and its vehicles, so work was done on this avenue urgently, as it clashed with the opposition of Baghdadi scholars and clerics when executing paving and floor services and blocking the way to the mosques, it was necessary to make bends in the street due to these problems. The street contains important heritage mosques, including: The Haider Khana Mosque, which was built by Daoud Pasha in 1819 AD, and the Hussein Pasha Mosque and old markets such as Souk al-Haraj, Souk al-Saray, Bab al-Agha and al-Shorja [20]. Where the street contained some of the most important squares; such as Al-Midan Square and Hafez Al-Qadi Square. In the early twenties, a great deal of chaos occurred in the street as a result of the announcement of the change of the traffic system from right to left. Traffic was according to the British system, in which the steering wheel was to the right. In the mid-twenties, a project for paving Al-Rasheed Street began [20]. It is the first street constructed in the historical urban fabric of the city and the buildings overlooking the street were designed (Figure 2), with a distinctive architectural style in their historical context (Figure 1), to form an important cultural heritage in Baghdad [21].

Figure 2. Al-Rasheed Street scene in 1945 [22]

3.1.2 The second phase

The city of Baghdad has undergone many changes, and one of the most prominent changes in its architecture is the spread of modern architecture (international style), as it represents the period that extends between the forties and the late seventies of the twentieth century and the use of pure lines and simple shapes and reliance on the functional principle, and at other times it appears as if it is inserted into the urban fabric without justification for its existence to break the line. The sky is in great contradiction in its human scale, and the sky line of Baghdad began to change through the emergence of multi-storey buildings such as the administrative building of Al-Amarah (Soufir) on Al-Rasheed Street in 1946 designed by (Medhat Ali Mazloum) [23]. The division of each time stage of the urban landscape was adopted, by reviewing the reliable sources that indicated this: Baghdad witnessed the transformation from a circular fortification city to an organic style, and the city maintained its compact structure until the beginning of the British colonial period in 1917 [24]. In the 1950s the planning firms of Doxiadis Associates (Greek), Minoprio and Spencely prepared the general master plans for Baghdad. The modernization was supported by a strong European influence; an example is Al-Rasheed Street, a road that ruthlessly winds its way through an organic pattern and influences notable historical buildings [25]. The chronology can be divided, passing from the old Rusafa stage (four historical areas in the city of Baghdad), then the stage (the demolition of the Rusafa wall in 1869 by Midhat Pasha), then (the construction of a dam in 1917 to protect Rusafa from torrential rains, and the completion of Al-Rasheed Street in 1918), and the establishment of links between Rusafa and Karkh via (Al shudahadaa Bridge) in 1918, then the last phase that expanded Rusafa and entered the modern phase (Amanat al-Asimah 1984) [17] i.e. dividing the area into 4 formal stages; which began in 1853 with the establishment of the Caliphate Palace, the market and some neighborhoods surrounded by the city wall, followed in 1908, which represented the urban expansion of the old fabric, while the third stage was the construction of new ways of movement within the old traditional fabric, where it represented this stage until 1950, when these axes were Perpendicular and parallel to the river by connecting the two sides of Karkh and Rusafa. This stage represents the beginning of the road, the influence of Western thought, while the fourth stage represents the current stage that represents the erosion that the area suffers from, in addition to establishing projects to expand Haifa Street. In 1930 the locality of Al-Sadoun was established, and the old Adhamiya was expanded. In 1933, Eastern Karada expanded and many palaces were built there. It also opened new and wide streets. (It was more like the streets of the European Renaissance than the extension of the street visually with the uniformity of height and the presence of urban features).

3.1.3 The third phase (the reality of the situation)

The area witnessed a comprehensive deterioration as a result of conservation decisions on the one hand and neglect, which led to the deterioration of the visual townscape [21]. That is, the manifestations of visual neglect were embodied in the obsolescence of many urban spaces and historical structures, which led to the deterioration of the urban townscape and spatial formation [26]. It is represented by the interventions of the authorities and the taking of ill-considered decisions that led to the loss of many heritage buildings and traditional fabric, and the neglect resulting from the great damage that afflicted traditional and heritage houses by converting some of them into shops and stores that are incompatible with their importance. And that one of the reasons for the manifestations of neglect is the removal of the largest part of the ancient Marjan Mosque in order to make Al-Rasheed Street straight and remove the heritage floors [27]. The state of visual deterioration worsened after the state of legal and regulatory lawlessness after 2003, due to the imbalance of activities and the change in land and building uses and the mixed use of buildings within Al-Rasheed Street as one of the clear examples of this deterioration [15].

Al-Rasheed Street today suffers from a number of architectural and urban problems; such as random buildings and the replacement of buildings that were built spontaneously, unfinished buildings or buildings that collapsed and only the ground floor was treated, dilapidated buildings, buildings without columns or corridors, or adding missing architectural elements to match the prevailing architectural elements in the concerned area and neighboring buildings and distorted buildings, led to this is due to the presence of distorted visual diversity in the facades of the buildings, as shown in the following pictures [26].

Figure 3. (a, b, c): Current scenes from Al Rashid Street now [26]

3.2 Al-Rasheed Street (morphological description)

The style of the arcade has become a custom that all or most of the buildings overlooking the street abide by. It is a corridor of columns about five meters high that provides shade and protection. The width of the street in most cases does not exceed 12 meters, which thus helps to give a sense of human scale. As for its height, which ranges between nine and fourteen meters. The arcade buildings are located on both sides of the street and constitute 70% of the total street buildings, forming a colonnaded walkway with a width of about 3.5 meters and a height of 5 meters. These rounded columns, with an average diameter of 45 cm, give a sense of unity and continuity to the street. Thus, it represents a distinctive feature of it. The buildings of the street vary dramatically in age, style, number of floors, and use. And most of these buildings need to renovate the facades. The character of Al-Rasheed Street is a ground floor with a portico with one or two upper floors, which gives a height to the buildings. Between (9-14) meters, the surveys showed that Al-Rasheed Street is morphologically divided into five distinct areas, as a result of the construction of bridges since 1939, which led to cutting Al-Rasheed Street into these parts. And the study of the (JCP) (JCP, 1984, p.25-26) that Al-Rasheed Street is divided into five parts: Al-Midan area, Al-Haider Khana area, Al-Souq area, Al-Murabba’ area, and Al-Sinak area [28].

The columns constitute the main character of the street, but they are exposed to erosion and damage, in addition to the demolition operations taking place on them from time to time, which threatens the character of the street due to the construction of buildings without columns, especially during the sixties and seventies of the last century. On both sides of Al-Rasheed Street, there are 1,124 columns, the stems of which are predominantly cylindrical, with a diameter ranging between 38 and 55 cm. As for the crowns that adorn the columns, three types can be distinguished, namely Doric, Ionian and Corinthian, which constitute about half, while the remaining half form distinct forms that do not belong to any of the known traditional forms [15].

The colonnaded arcades characterize Al-Rasheed Street formally and protect pedestrians from sunlight and rain functionally, but they are located on two-thirds of the length of the street, while the other third remains lacking in these corridors for many reasons, including the lack of commitment to modern buildings that were built in the third quarter of the twentieth century or the incompleteness of the building. The width of the porch ranges between 2.40 m and 3.20 m, and the distance between the columns forming the arcade varies between 3 m and 5 m in some cases [15].

4. Method and Tools of Measurement

The information required for the case study was collected using the following methods:

1. Collecting data, images and urban townscapes of Al-Rasheed Street and the surrounding urban fabric by reviewing the existing documents obtained from the concerned authorities and departments (Amanat Al Asimah).

2. The research processes data collected in different open coding formats through; sorting axial coding and classifying the data into specific groups, in accordance with the vocabulary of the tables of the theoretical framework for each time period, that is, rearranging the data and processing it to focus the information according to the indicators of the theoretical framework and its measurement. In short, it can be said that the data is first collected, then sorted to make the data sets more manageable, and then the raw data is converted into an easy-to-understand model where the data is analyzed according to descriptive-qualitative analysis (through description and analysis). This analysis will be in the form of text and images, and it also includes pictorial representations and analyzing them according to indicators of visual values for each time stage [29].

3. Physical observation of the urban townscape on Al-Rasheed Street; it included a direct visit to Al-Rasheed Street, the parameters of the theoretical framework were measured, and several pictures were taken.

4. The data was processed through descriptive analysis of the selected urban townscape using information obtained from scenes and field interviews in addition to charts and photos. Where the collected data were analyzed within the limits of the presented theoretical framework, and then the results of the analysis were evaluated.

5. Researchers Analysis (of the Historical Urban Townscape of Al-Rasheed Street) According to the Theoretical Framework

The researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis of the morphological stages in order to read the urban townscape that Al-Rasheed Street passed through, and analyze it based on the previous (historical and morphological description), and analyze it according to the extracted theoretical framework they found.

5.1 Tracing of the Renaissance era in Al Rasheed Street townscape

Al-Rasheed Street at the beginning of its inception converges with the features of the formation of (Boulevard) streets in the Renaissance through: The adoption of the perspective scene, the unification of height and the human scale, with the presence of corridors that enhance unity and continuity and give aesthetics through the rounded columns that form a sequential rhythm of shadow, light and emptiness and mass, and separates it sensually and visually from the noise of the street. The concept of the aesthetics of humanity is clearly visible in the street through the architectural details, despite the different buildings in their urban style, but most of the buildings are characterized by unified architectural elements, in which the buildings are two-storey and have decorated balconies, and decorative details that give the scene a continuous excitement and aesthetic. (Figures 4-7).

Figure 4. Urban townscape perspective [20]

Figure 5. The beginnings of the emergence of Al-Rasheed Street [20]

We find the features of the Renaissance scene in the market area / Al-Rasheed Street (between the extension of Al-Shuhada Bridge and Al-Ahrar Bridge), where the fabric includes architecturally distinguished buildings. The facades between Hafez Al-Qadi Square and Abdul Karim Qasim Square are the most homogeneous, with architectural richness and decorative details. It also includes a group of important points and distinctive landmarks, namely the Marjan Mosque, the Rafidain Bank, the Abdul Karim Qasim monument. The concept of squares also appears in the visual scene; the most prominent of them is Hafez Al-Qadi Square. Then Al Murabba'a is followed by importance in terms of distinctive buildings, visual consistency and aesthetics.

In general, if we assume that Al-Rasheed Street is (a linguistic text), it can be read with the characteristics of the letters of the Renaissance architecture in terms of the availability of the concept of human and perspective aesthetics and the presence of distinctive monuments and squares in it that were available in (Boulevard) in the Renaissance era and one of the most important landmarks in Mashhad Al-Rashid such as the Azbek Mosque Al-Muradia Mosque, Al-Midan Square, Al-Ahmadi Mosque.

The principles of harmony and consistency appear on the visual level in two aspects: One of the which could be found in design and the other is in details, where the first includes the aspect of context, composition, urban fabric and appearance (relationships at the general level), while the other aspect deals with details such as color, scale, texture, style, architectural details and building materials used (relationships at the level of the parts) that are interconnected which gives the overall formal unity and harmony to the external visual appearance in order to achieve visual communication with the components of the general scene (Figures 6-7) [30].

Figure 6. A scene showing the balconies and columns on Al-Rasheed Street [20]

Figure 7. Squares in Al-Rasheed Street [20]

5.2 Tracing of the modern era in Al Rasheed Street townscape

The stages of the spread of modern architecture represent two main stages in the path of international style in Baghdad, called the years of foundation and the spirit of the place, and they are:

• The first phase - which extends from the twenties until the beginning of the forties.

• The second phase - starting from World War II until the end of the fifties.

Where the focus was on the second phase (Figures 8-9), which represented the spirit of contemporary Baghdad, which is an important and essential stage in the development of modern architecture in Iraq. There is a wide use of modern construction methods and materials, as well as an attempt to introduce complex engineering service systems into the fabric of buildings for the first time such as electrical systems, elevators, air conditioning systems, and water supply and sewage systems.

There are many reasons that hastened the process of this rapid and dramatic change in the course of architecture in Baghdad, including the increase in the country’s resources from oil extraction operations, and the spread of the principles of modern architecture in many countries outside the European continent, as well as the increase in the number of Iraqi architects, and the invitation of foreign architects to work in Iraq during that stage also contributed to the process of accelerating that change. In addition to the rapid desire to fill the great shortage of buildings and headquarters that Iraq has suffered for decades, all of this led to the presence of a significant number of unique architectural products on Al-Rasheed Street, such as the Al-Daftardar Building, the Rafidain Bank Building, and the Al-Damarji Building, which was characterized by modest architectural treatments, whether in its plans or facades, and even the construction materials used in it are not all new, but the method of its construction and implementation is closer to traditional than to modern construction methods. Where the height and image of these buildings affected the romantic memory of the Baghdadis, and these and other buildings created a panorama of the architecture of the second phase, in which the concept of the star architect emerged [31].

Figure 8. The complete urban townscape showing the diversity of buildings, and the entry of modern architecture (showing communication building) [15]

Tracking the trace of modern architecture (International Style) can be clearly read in the period of the fifties to the seventies in Al-Rasheed Street, through the adoption of the interwoven buildings on the historical fabric, with high heights that violate the line of the sky in continuity and with box-shaped forms, and they were usually built of reinforced concrete, and this can be clearly seen in Al-Rasheed Street Specifically in the area (Al-Sinak: Between Al-Sinak Bridge and Al-Jumhuriya Bridge), it is the newest area within Al-Rasheed Street, and its buildings mostly belong to the post-fifties of the twentieth century. One such example is the communications building of the architect Rifaat Chadirji (Figure 10).

Figure 9. Al-Rasheed Street and the disruption of the visual scene through modern buildings [15]

Figure 10. Timeline of Al-Rasheed Street and the international townscape

Source: [23] With researchers' additions

6. Results

The results of the researchers’ descriptive analysis showed that the urban townscape in Al-Rasheed Street carried the aesthetic and perspective values of the Renaissance architecture at the beginning of its historical emergence during the Ottoman rule, as it was characterized by a coherent, proportional, sequential scene, until the entry of modern architecture in the early fifties; which led to the rupture and interruption of the coherent scene through the high and (box-shaped) object buildings of platonic forms built of reinforced concrete, then the urban townscape entered a great visual chaos, due to several economic, urban and social factors (various societal values), with the apparent neglect and deterioration of the old buildings. Wars and destruction on both the architectural and urban levels led to the deterioration of the urban townscape. All of these factors led to the decline of the urban townscape, and the sustainable environmental townscape in Iraq was not reached.

7. Conclusions and Recommendations

The concept of the urban landscape emerged clearly at the beginning of the twentieth century, as it is the product of the interaction between social activities and ideological concepts, as well as economic, material, technical and other factors that can be considered among the changing factors depending on social, spatial and cultural conditions. The constant in the character of the city and determining its urban identity, the collaboration of the elements of the fixed environment, including climate and terrain, participate in forming the city's personality and defining its urban identity.

The urban townscape is a final product of the interaction of fixed and changing factors with each other, and since social behavior changes with the change of time, this results in a change in the scenes with the change of time. The urban townscape has gone through multiple stages; all the way to the ecological townscape. The urban scene in the Middle Ages was characterized by the dominance of the church from a visual point of view, with the decline in the value of man. The church began to appear clearly in the skyline of the city scene. With the entry of the world into the Renaissance, the urban townscape began to vary according to the ideology of the Renaissance, which is (humanity), aesthetics, and the rise in human value; the urban townscape was characterized by homogeneity, extension, and the creation of perspective scenes, with attention to urban landmarks, the concept of urban squares, and attention to front facades.

Where the Renaissance began to pave the way for the world to enter the stage of modern architecture, as an important shift in the history of cities that came with social ideals and technological aesthetics. Cities have undergone rapid change – urban scenes have focused on the concept of International Style, technology and advanced technology, high rise buildings and pure forms. Then came postmodernism, which rejected rational ideologies and emphasized the values of place, collective memory, and material identity. The difference in concepts and requirements, led to a change in the integrated and coherent scene (the traditional scene), down to the contextual scene, passing through many changes of the era with its requirements or challenges.

Intellectual currents influenced the urban townscape and generated four types of scenes: The artistic scene, the functional scene, the perceptual/contextual scene, all the way to sustainable ecological scenes [32].

In tracing the urban townscape in Baghdad, where Baghdad witnessed a dramatic transformation in its morphological and urban context by changing the rules from the Ottoman conquest to the British occupation and the subsequent changes after the Twentieth Revolution. During the ownership period and since then, the city has grown exponentially. The old urban landscape and its morphology, formally or informally, were affected by the wave of modernity and later replaced by the new urban context, which led to the loss of the relationship between built forms and streets and the rupture and disruption of the townscape due to the change in ideals and aesthetics in intellectual currents during different time periods and its impact on architecture and its relationship Historical context in city centers. The researchers confirmed that time in the eighties stopped in the modernist scene on Al-Rasheed Street and we did not reach the sustainable ecological scene, due to Iraq’s entry into wars. However, the urban townscape is in a state of constant flux, and Iraq may witness a wave of technological and environmental sustainability, because urban structures are constantly evolving and changing. Whereas, Taghlib [15] pointed out, "Change is still intensifying, and its impact appears day after day, so that the banners of modernity sometimes rise and architectural vulgarity at other times rise above the surfaces of what is left of an urban heritage that is threatened with extinction. The bitter reality prompts us to draw attention to stopping the deterioration of this urban fabric that carries many meanings and memories that formed the nucleus around which contemporary Baghdad grew and developed.


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