AMBS architects envisions a gravity defying gateway for basra
all images courtesy of AMBS architects





basra, located on the southeast of iraq, is known as the city that proudly showcases the country’s achievements to the rest of the world. to emphasize on this, ambs architects have envisioned a gravity defying gateway for basra, where visitors are greeted by a grand entrance of suspended preponderant ocular arches, connected by bridges. capable of expanding or detracting, a framed modular flexible grid acts as the façade, evoking the presence of a stage. referenced by the abstract and naturally occurring geometric formations of the mineral pyrite, colliding cubes puncture the solid volume to produce a dynamic system of voids.

ambs architects gateway
the gateway encourages visitors to engage and stimulate an understanding of iraq’s unique culture




to demonstrate basra’s lively culture, the all-encompassing conglomerate of inventive spaces is a profusion of overlapping structures, intersected to enable a multitude of activities. the gateway embodies basra’s past, present and future through the references integrated into the structures ensemble. influenced by islamic artistry, patterned and engraved façades veil the steel space frame within. alluding to the sobriety of traditional islamic fortresses, the distinguished geometry of the perforated mass stone walls contrasts to the fluid assemblage encompassed. the engaging openings and extravagant superfluity of idiosyncratic forms embrace compelling surrealist features of dramatic proportions, provoking exploration.

ambs architects gateway
emulating the hanging gardens of babylon, the interior is draped in greenery with flourishing overhanging plants




to promote iraq’s rich variety of natural resources, an industrial steel shell is clad in light translucent alabaster. these panels brimmed in light generate a myriad of orifices that create patterns of diffused luminosity. the internal spaces come to life as natural daylight permeates the skin with a soft gleam, providing visual texture through the irregular veining. alluding the few remainders of babylon in iraq, a suspended lion is sculpted to encapsulate the power of basra.

ambs architects gateway
the gateway’s ornate materiality, reminiscent of a jewellery box, acts as a gift offered to outsiders




traditionally considered the sacred colour of islam, the gates exoteric faces are dressed in shades of gold and the iridescent turquoise green of patinated copper screens. the classic iraqi arch perforates panels of opulent, pearly marble as a tribute to iraq’s unique and historic style. the appendable panels integrate shutters that are adjusted to elicit light and natural ventilation reminiscent of the local bazaar awnings.

ambs architects gateway
the construction serves a place of identification to articulate basra’s role as a captivating cultural destination




emulating the hanging gardens of babylon, the interior is draped in greenery with flourishing overhanging plants supplying shade and an essence of growth to the thriving microclimate. developed to provide refuge from the desert heat, the passive cooling system uses harvested pools of water to connect floors. vertically flowing streams cascade down, distributing water to the pleasure gardens, the engaging openings identifying public areas.

ambs architects gateway
resembling a light box at night, the framework lit behind the curtain of walls creates a spectacle of light and shadow

ambs architects gateway
the emerging edifice manifests islamic ubiquity

ambs architects gateway
the ambitious multiplex is devised to create a boost for basra’s exemplary progressive purpose

ambs architects gateway
structural diagram 

ambs architects gateway
horizontal circulation diagram

ambs architects gateway
vertical circulation diagram – platforms can be accessed from above

ambs architects gateway
internal water flow diagram – vertically flowing streams cascade down, distributing water to the platforms pools



project info:


project info: basra gate design concept
location: basra, iraq
date: 2015
size: 25,600 sqm
services provided: architectural design



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edited by: juliana neira | designboom