Erbil is one of the most ancient cities in the world and the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In mid 2014, the region was in the midst of an economic boom. Being the only calm and secure area in violence-torn Iraq, the city was thriving and aspiring to take a leading economic role in the development of Kurdistan and of Iraq more broadly.

To facilitate this goal, the client invited Diar Consult to submit design proposals for the Erbil Stock Exchange, set to be the first exchange in the northern Kurdish enclave housing stock exchange offices, a trading floor, rental offices, an area for technical operations and ancillary services.

The project is immersed in both the ancient history of the city and the progressive, optimistic modernity of the stock exchange function, making the development a very diverse environment with a strong duality between the old and the new.

The design concept features three main elements:

— The wall: representing the traditional and historical layers of the city of Erbil

— The floating box: representing the modernity of the function

— The tower: accommodating the offices and representing growth and status.

The three elements are arranged on a raised platform, mimicking the artificial mound of Erbil’s historic Citadel, and are unified by a single water body reflecting the fluidity and speculative nature of the stock market.

The wall is given character by irregular openings derived from the architecture of the traditional houses in the Citadel. As a reflection of the city’s history, it has irregular stone courses and is engraved with ancient calligraphy.

The floating box is a transparent building that uses high-tech building materials, such as translucent, fibre-optic embedded concrete which makes the exterior look solid during daytime yet translucent and glowing at night. The language of the box is inspired by the stock price indices, ever changing and fluctuating, and is intended to project current activity. The façade crevices can be lit indirectly from the inside with a colour that matches the status of the market: red for a decrease, green for an increase and white for a stable market.

Unfortunately the optimism that generated the brief for the project has been undermined by instability in the region, which has put all development on hold.

Project team

  • Diar Consult: Lead consultants
  • Aldarah, Amman, Jordan: Associate architects