Restoration & adaptive reuse of Shihab Chalabi house in Erbil Citadel, a UNESCO world heritage site – Kurdistan, Iraq

Project information
Project partners
  • Client: IFPO (French Institute of the Middle East)
  • HCECR (High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization)
  • French Embassy in Iraq 
  • Lafarge Iraq
  • MB Conservation

Project description

Dr. Mahmoud Bendakir has been contracted by the IFPO (French Institute of the Middle East) to lead the project, to undertake the conservation studies, to prepare the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse plan for Shihab Chalabi House and to supervise the restoration works.

Project description

Shihab Chalabi House is an Ottoman building located in the heart of Erbil Citadel (Iraq, province of Kurdistan), and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This valuable building was the subject of a restoration and refurbishment program carried out in close collaboration between the IFPO, the HCECR, and Dr. Mahmoud Bendakir, between June 2011 and October 2012.

In October 2011, his Excellency Denis Gauer, Ambassador of France in Iraq, and Mr. Dara Yakubi, Head of the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization (HCECR), signed an agreement granting the use of Shihab Chalabi House to host the IFPO in Iraq. Mr. François Burgat, director of the IFPO, and Mr. Attila Pars, Chief Financial Officer of the company Lafarge, signed an agreement of financial partnership between the IFPO and Lafarge for the renovation of this building.

Following these two agreements, the IFPO engaged Dr. Mahmoud Bendakir to prepare technical and architectural studies and a conservation and adaptive reuse plan, and to supervise and coordinate the restoration works.

Facing the lack of contractors and professionals specialized in the field of heritage conservation and restoration, Dr. Bendakir proposed a participatory approach based mainly on local laborers trained on the job. About 20 local workers have been engaged by the IFPO and trained by Dr. Bendakir to carry out all the restoration works.

The objectives of the restoration of Shihab Chalabi House are as follows:

  • Complete the documentation of Shihab Chalabi House.
  • Assess the condition in detail and map the various issues affecting this historic monument.
  • Complete a technical study and design for restoration of the house.
  • Use Chalabi House as a pilot project to develop an in-the-job training workshop to reinforce local capacity and skills in the field of heritage conservation.
  • Implement the restoration works in accordance with international standards and UNESCO recommendations for the preservation of Erbil Citadel.

Other information

Conservation studies & implementation of restoration works: Dr. Mahmoud Bendakir (MB Conservation)