Only one person in the entire team has set foot in Iraq and not even one has visited the cities they were commissioned to design

news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | August 26, 2014 | 05:51 pm IST

Far away from bustling London, in a barn located in the hills of Sedbergh, a small family-owned firm is helping rebuild the country of Iraq.

Garsdale Design, a firm in Yorkshire Dales in Northern England which first won a contract to redesign Nasiriyah, a city in southern Iraq from the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works seven years ago is helping rebuild Iraq. The cities devastated by war and years of neglect by its rulers are being designed using state of art 3D modeling software from a town 3000 miles away, said the Guardian.

“The cities we’re working on were neglected by Saddam Hussein, so they have little basic infrastructure,” says Elliot Hartley, 36, a director of Garsdale Design. Answering the question of why Iraqis couldn’t do the designing themselves , Derrick, 71, co-director and Elliot’s father said that “there has been a massive brain drain of professionals from Iraq over the years, and a lack of investment in local government planning departments, which means that the skills aren’t there – yet.”

A whole masterplan with new homes, sewerage, water and electricital systems along with a public transport system for a city of 500,000 people was designed for the first city designed. Since then Garsdale Design has won contracts to produce masterplans for more Iraqi cities: Kut, Hayy and Nu’maniyah in Wasit Province.

Only one person in the entire team has set foot in Iraq and not even one has visited the cities they were commissioned to design. “Remote working is always a challenge,” said Elliot with irony. The difficulty can only be understood if you consider that lots of data used by the firm has to first be “translated from Arabic into English by obliging Iraqi local government workers,” said the Guardian report.

The firm which fended off competition from bigger international firms specializing in Iraqi construction had an upper hand in winning the contract because Derrick had worked in Libya and Kuwait doing design and construction. By this the family had gathered a lot of experience in working and designing for the Middle East. 

Apart from design, the firm has also been training Iraqi urban designers, architects and planners in the methods they use to redesign the cities.
By doing this, the Hartleys are not only educating a whole lot of Iraqis but will also ensure that Iraq becomes self-sufficient and can design its cities using its own people in times to come.

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