Between tradition and modernity: Max Lock and the Ubullah Neighbourhood Plan


  • Ben Tosland NYU London



tradition, modernity, planning, architecture, Basra


Ubullah is a zoned neighbourhood to the north of Basra, which the British planner and architect Max Lock was commissioned to plan in 1956 by the Basra Port Directorate. This followed a series of separate but relatable plans in southern Iraq completed in plan form during the previous two years. This article critically assesses how the Ubullah Neighbourhood Plan straddles both tradition and modernity within Iraq’s wider developing context, both through its physical architectural and townscape features, as well as its segregated location, away from the city centre. Owing to Basra’s location, within Iraq yet close to the Gulf, it negotiates wider geographies than its national picture; Lock’s plan acknowledged these through the scale to which he planned and the forms and types of building he aimed to procure through the publication of the Ubullah Neighbourhood Plan. This article further places the plan within its architectural and planning context, illustrating similar modern works within the Gulf, Iraq and Europe which forms Lock’s professional context. Ultimately, the plan was doomed to failure; from the outset, it was a plan that made sense for Lock to complete due to his portfolio of work in Basra and southern Iraq, yet difficulties with the location’s proximity to the city and its cut off nature meant Ubullah would be an isolated enclave on the periphery of the city. In addition, national politics and growing disquiet with the influence of the British within Iraq and neighbouring countries in the Gulf ensured the Ubullah plan by Lock was shelved. 


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How to Cite

Tosland, B. (2021). Between tradition and modernity: Max Lock and the Ubullah Neighbourhood Plan . Histories of Postwar Architecture, 5(8), 93–116.