Dewan Award for Architecture 2018

School in the Marshes


A Typical Marsh Landscape:  Villages are built on artificial floating islands by enclosing a piece of swamp and filling it in with reeds and mud. For flood protection, more layers are added each year to strengthen the platform’s foundation.  The Iraqi Marshes are a wetland area located in southern Iraq. Historically the marshlands, mainly composed of the separate but adjacent Central, Hawizeh and Hammar Marshes, used to be the largest wetland ecosystem of Western Eurasia. It is a rare aquatic landscape in the desert since 2016 the Mesopotamian marshes are listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.  Due to the geographical location and ecological factors of the Fertile Crescent, a crescent shape area running from the basins of the Nile in Egypt, northwards along the Mediterranean coast in Palestine and southwards again along the Euphrates and the Tigris towards the Persian Gulf, civilizations were able to develop agricultural and technological programs. The crucial trigger was the availability of wild edible plant species.  Farming arose early in the Fertile Crescent because the area had a large quantity of wild wheat and pulse species that were nutritious and easy to domesticate. The marshes are home to 40 species of bird and several species of fish.  The marshes were once home to millions of birds and the stopover for millions of other migratory birds, including flamingos, pelicans and herons as they travelled from Siberia to Africa. At risk are 40% to 60% of the world’s marbled teal population that live in the marshes, along with 90% of the world’s population of Basra reed-warbler.


In the 4th millennium BC, the first literate societies emerged in Southern Mesopotamia, often referred to as the Cradle of Civilization, and the first cities and complex state bureaucracies were developed there during the Uruk period.  Rich with historical legacy, the wetlands are the locale in which Sumerian civilisation flourished, later to be succeeded by Akkadia, Babylonia, Assyria and Chaldea On its shores, the legendary Epic of Gilgamesh was enacted. It is also an area of major significance in the history of the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  Biblical scholars regard it as the likely site of the legendary “Garden of Eden”, the “Great Flood” and the birthplace of the patriarch Abraham. Shrines of prophets and venerated religious figures engrave its landscape.  World-renowned archaeological sites on the fringes of the marshes include Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Larsa, Lagash and Nina. Little archaeological exploration has been carried out inside the marshes themselves. Mounds, known as tells, rising above marsh waters are believed to be sites of ancient cities.  Notable amongst these are the sites of Agar, Qubab, Ishan, Azizah, Dibin and Waquf (Roux, 1993).Wholesale changes in the region’s land cover, associated with drainage engineering works, military activity and oil exploration, have seriously jeopardised a critical area of great archaeological interest.  A crucible of civilization, the marshlands have been home to ancient human communities for more than five millennia. The area’s inhabitants are commonly known as the Ma’dan or “Marsh Arabs”, whose population is estimated to range from 350,000 to 500,000.


A historical and fundamental area of Iraq are the marshes which are home to many families with minimal infrastructure. Dewan has chosen this exact location to build a school in order to supply the families the much-needed education in an area that is lacking for facilities that will nurture the future of Iraq. The particular plot is located perfectly between two rivers for multiple means of properties with empty land surrounding it for possible expansion in the future to house more students.


Participants are asked to design a primary school in the long-forgotten area of the Iraqi marshes, taking into account the limitations of the area and the ecological impact of construction on nature and the fauna of the marshes. The design is for a 6-class primary school serving the nearby villages with all the amenities of a modern school.  The sustainable design to take special care to minimize the impact on the fragile ecosystem of the marshes and to emphasize the awareness of the children of their unique surroundings and the importance of the impact of the humans on the marshes and its fauna.


The school should be designed according to the modern teaching  philosophies which encourages the students to search, innovate and face life challenges rather than the old traditional methods of memorizing the textbooks which are still in use.
The school activities whether academic, research, sport or even entertainment should be full of dynamics, spirit of challenge and call to respect all ideas and represents the unity of Iraq and its people.

The following spaces are for guidance and the designer may add other spacers if he found necessary:


The main lobby and information desk
Principal office
Teachers room/Admin
Associates services, toilets, storage, etc.


6 Classrooms each  (50m2 – 60m2)
Future expansion of another 6 classrooms
General laboratory
Associates services, toilets, storage, etc.


General Activity room
Drawing room
Music room
Teachers room

Gymnasium/Multipurpose hall
Athletic changing room
Theatrical changing room
Dining hall
Dry Kitchen, etc. (food cooked and supplied from outside the school)


Volleyball/Basketball field
Mini football field
Small spectators stand
Outdoor non-covered areas, gardens, etc.
Car park for 5 cars
Parking for 10 small boats

Participants are asked to design a primary school in the long-forgotten area of the Iraqi marshes, taking into account the limitations of the area and the ecological impact of construction on nature and the fauna of the marshes. The design is for a 6-class primary school serving the nearby villages with all the amenities of a modern school.

Develop the school with the mentioned specifications with a possibility of future expansion

04 / APRIL / 2018 – Official announcement of the competition and start of Early registration.

01 / AUGUST / 2018 – Start of the Late registration.

25 / AUGUST / 2018 – Closing date for Registrations.

28 / AUGUST/ 2018 – Closing date for Submissions.

NOVEMBER / 2018 – Announcement of Results.

​TBA – Annual Tamayouz Excellence Award Ceremony.

All Deadlines are 11:59 pm GMT (London)


RELEVANCE  – A clear declaration of conditions that set the contextual parameters of the project through identification of local challenges, construction and living culture.
RESPONSE – Aspirational and original projects with programmatic response to existing environmental and social conditions and local challenges.

RESOLUTION – Spatial, material and technical justification.  Clarity of design process.

IMPACT – Clear definition of positive transformative social, spatial and environmental impact of the project.

VISION – Aesthetic, material and technical ambitions.

SUSTAINABILITY – Local materials, traditional construction, water saving, minimisation of negative environmental impact of the building

MODULAR DESIGN– The designs should be modular in conception to allow for the possibility of expansion to cater for larger villages or increased age groups.

Participants required to submit the following :
1- One – A0 board in JPEG format, Every team is encouraged to submit all the information they consider necessary to explain their proposal. Content may include but not limited to plans, sections, elevations, visualisations, diagrams, etc.  The resolution of the boards must be 150dpi with the unique registration number placed in the upper left corner of the board in 18 pt font.

NOTE: All files must be named after the unique registration number

Submit your entry by using the upload link in your registration confirmation email.

1 X A0 PDF - 150 dpi

1 X Word DOC (250) Words


1. This is an anonymous competition and the Unique Registration Number is the only means of identification.
2. The official language of the award is English.
3. The registration fee for this award is non-refundable.
4. Contacting the Jury is prohibited.
5. Tamayouz Award, as the award organiser, reserves the right to modify the award schedule if deemed necessary.
6. Entries will not be reviewed if any of the rules or submission requirements are not considered.
7. Participation assumes acceptance of the regulations.


Please send any questions to​​

Q: Who can register?

A: Anyone is welcome to register- This an open international competition.

Q: How many people are allowed per team?

A: A maximum of four people are allowed per team.

Q: How many projects can be submitted per team?

A: One project per team. Teams who wish to submit multiple designs can register their team multiple times.

Q: How do I submit my work?

A: Submit your entry by using the upload link in your registration confirmation email.

Q: How do I register for the competition?

A: You can register by paying the registration fee, once the payment is confirmed it will automatically take you to information page where you enter your information.

Q: What forms of payment do you accept?

A: Online Payments; Paypal and Credit Cards, wire transfer (Europe and US) and if none of the before is suitable please get in touch with us on the email above.

Q: Can we submit printed boards?

A: No, all submissions must be in digital format as outlined in the competition brief.

Q: Is there a specific program requirement?

A: Yes, there the competition program can be found in the competition brief.

Q: What is the height requirement?

A: There is no specific height requirement.

Q: Is it possible to do underground floors?

A: Yes, There are no design restrictions.

Q: Should I design a temporary structure or permanent building?

A: Your design should be a permanent structure.

Q: How many team members can be involved in my project?

A: Four members maximum.

Q: Can I share my project on social media before the announcement of the winners?

A: Projects may NOT be shared before the announcement of the Winners.

Q: Can a name or a company logo be included on a board or DOC document?

A: Submission materials should NOT include any company logo or identification, boards with any identification on it will be disqualified without notification.

Q:  Should I use metric or imperial units if my I need to show dimensions?

​A: Either metric or imperial units may be used.

Q: Is there a specific site for my project?

A: There is a specific site that can be downloaded using the links in the download section.

Q: Should I use Manual, freehand or digital presentation?

A: There are no restrictions regarding presentations as long as the team is submitting a digital copy satisfying the requirements specified in the brief.

Q: Is room for expansion up or in neighboring plots?

A: Future expansion, within plot limit.

Q: Are buses going to be utilized for the school as well? Should there be parking on site for these buses if that is the case? and should the buses be in the plot area has they drop of kids or can they do it from the adjacent roads?

A: School Buses to be used, with sufficient parking and safe drop of area within plot limit.

Q: Is there adequate power utility stations in the area, or should the building be geared towards sustainability?

A: Limited power is available. Alternative emergency power supply should be considered, with significant sustainable approach.

Q: Is the library going to have computers and internet? 

A: Yes

Q: What is the grade ranges for the school?

A: First – Sixth Grade.

Q: Should the school incorporate a tech lab? (3D printers, cnc machines and whatnot?)

A: Not at this stage. However, elementary labs and art workshops should be available

Q: The boats they use are called Taradas? Which are up to 30′ long? Are there better dimensions for that somewhere, or should I assume 30′?

A: “Tarada” & “Mash-hoof” will be used, besides other modern small boats

Q: Should security be considered for where the boats enter to the building? Something that can ensure that it’s inaccessible at night?

A: Boats will not enter the building, and will be on the water edge of the plot limit, beyond that a proper fencing and gating should be considered.

Q: About how many kids? General capacity of the assembly hall? Just kids, kids and parents? Kids, parents and friends?

A: Nr. of kids per class shall be 20-30 students, and the capacity of the assembly hall should cater for the kids and their extended families, and also to serve for some community events as well.

Q: A car park for 5 cars seems small; would parking in adjacent lots be done if a lot of people showed up? Is this just for teachers?

A: Car parks are only for teachers and admin staff. However, water transport should be encouraged.

Q: I couldn’t find exact flood heights for the region but did find a number that stated it was 1.5 meters in some place, is that reasonable for the area or is there another number that would make more sense?

A: It is reasonable.

Q: When you say limitations of the area does that mean it’s hard to get supplies to that spot, or that the ground itself is sandy and requires proper footing, support or design considerations?

A: The roads around the plot are still rural, and underdeveloped, accessible by land trucks. The water transport is more efficient in terms of providing supplies. However, the school itself should be the driver for further development of the area. The ground is an agricultural land, with high water table. No requirements at this conceptual stage.

Q: May I ask if it is possible to create direct access to the river from the project site? There is a road that separates the site from the river (southwest). Would relocating this road be an option (while maintaining surrounding areas connected properly)? This would create a direct access to the river from the school without the need for the students to cross the road when using the boats.

A: Yes, the road on the southwest edge of the site is a rural road, and can be relocated, if this can provide a better water access to the site. However, land access is also important to the school, and the little bridge on the adjacent river on the southeast edge. Unless another solution to this little bridge will be suggested.

Join Our List

Sign up to receive award updates