The site of the Baghdad Opera project design-build competition – the entry was placed second overall – lies along the Tiger River and covers an area of 87000m². The project is intended to become the major cultural complex of the city.

The brief of the Ministry of Culture included four principal buildings and several smaller security buildings and gatehouses to the security fenced Opera site. The principal buildings were the Opera, the Symphony Building, the Ministry of Culture administrative building and the Dar AL Mamoon publications and information building, adding to a total building area of 76000m².

The buildings have been organised on the site in a way strictly separating the functions that are accessed by the public from the ones that are not. The site is thus divided into two distinctive zones – the public zone and the institutional zone. The public zone buildings – Opera and Symphony Building – are accessed via a wide walkway – the Esplanade – which becomes the key pedestrian circulation element of the project and serves both as access and promenade linking the parking area, the entrance and all buildings of the public zone. It terminates overhanging the river thus ensuring an unobstructed view of the Tigris and its opposite river bank.

The form and character of the several buildings of the overall cultural complex, although remaining uniform, vary in their expression in order to highlight their specific functions. The institutional buildings and, in particular, the Dar Al Mamoon building bear strong reminiscences of traditional Arab motifs. The Opera, with its “nautilus” form and steep dome, dominates the site and would become a landmark visible from the other side of the river as well.

Design Team


Sgoutas Architects part of Anaplasi S.A. Group

Structural Engineers          

Anaplasi S.A.

MEP Consultants                

Tekem S.A.

Acoustical Consultant        

Ema O.E.

Design completed 2011