Design and Location

Detail: Mesopotamian woven embroidered blanket

Above: From Uruk, magnesite with silver ram, 3100-2900 BCE. From Ancient near Eastern Cylinder Seals aquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1963-1973, by P.R.S. Moorey and O.R. Gurney, Iraq, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring, 1978), pp. 41-60

Right: Cylinder seal rollout.

* Quotation attributed to: Eltifaat Khrechan Lafta, Al Khudhairi , Al-Muthanna Governorate

The Garden

Our site in El Chibaish is 26,250 square meters (6.4 acres, 2.6 hectares), which allows for treatment of the sewage wastewater of 7,500 people. Currently, this wastewater is being discharged along an open canal and channeled in to the marshes.

The constructed wetland treatment will start with 7,000 square meters of reeds, which grow 1.8 meters tall. This first reed bed will immediately diminish the odor from the sewage. The wastewater will then go into the second phase of the garden: the “subsurface flow wetland.” Here, organic material of the sewage will be transformed by bacteria into mineral substances, cleaning the wastewater and simultaneously creating a beautiful and culturally significant garden by providing nutrients for plants and fruit trees. Design elements will demonstrate the rich cultural heritage of the marsh people by incorporating local materials and crafts, including earthen brick (adobe), woven reed, and ceramic tile. For more information about Wastewater Garden technology, click this link.

The garden will call attention to Mesopotamian design and history. Woven embroidered Mesopotamian Wedding blanket patterns have inspired the garden’s blueprint and layout of its planting areas. The designs of this ancient woven craft are inspired by “nature and its biological diversity and also the spirit of ancestors”*  within Marsh Arab culture, and are passed down to new generations.

3,000-5,000 year old Sumerian Cylinder seals will inspire graphic design elements and ceramic wall reliefs. We plan to utilize this style of ornamentation as a means of decorating the garden in collaboration with inhabitants.

Sustainable reed architecture, in use for over 7,000 years, will provide shade and respite from heat while allowing fractal light to enter interior spaces. This easily assembled construction method will be used in the garden for shade structures and viewing towers. Earthen brick, an ancient building material well suited for the desert and prized for its thermal stability, will supplement the reed architecture. It is envisioned that small local businesses will be able use the site to sell crafts, produce, and food.

El Chibaish Site, 2017

Landscape architectural plan for our site in El Chibaish.
Blueprint for below ground pipe system for Wastewater Garden
Traditional woven, embroidered Mesopotamian wedding blanket, the inspiration for the garden’s design.

El Chibaish Site Renderings

By Bernard Du




In 2014, Dr. Mark Nelson and Dr. Davide Tocchetto conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment for a potential site at Al-Manar. To see the full details of the environmental implications of building a Wastewater Garden at this site, click the icon on the left.