THEY SAID HE WAS NUTS: But this young Iraqi Kurdish sculptor built his chestnut-shaped house anyway.

What did you do during lockdown? Iraqi Kurdish sculptor Zerevan Salih was busy building his dream house – shaped like a chestnut.

By Saja Sherzad, in Dohuk

The young art teacher had previously presented his idea as a public art project to the authorities in Dohuk province, in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. “They liked the idea but because of the poor economic situation and the lack of financing, they turned it down,” Salih explained. “But the idea remained with me: I wanted to turn a large piece of chestnut wood into a home.”

The house that Salih eventually built is about 9 meters long and 4 meters wide. Arched wooden walls contain a small kitchen, with a sink and cooker, and a large sofa, curved to fit into the space. At the front, there’s a large window that allows in plenty of light.

“It was difficult but it was also fun,” Salih says. There were a lot of challenges – he didn’t have the correct machinery and had to find alternatives for some tasks. He was assisted by one electrician, who helped him wire the house up. Salih estimates he spent about US$20,000 to complete the home.

(To see videos of the house, click here and here)

Of course, he got a lot of criticism from friends and family, many of whom said he was crazy to spend so much money on such a project. But he ignored them.

“When I started out, I didn’t have the experience or the cash and a lot of people thought it was nonsense,” he told Al Menassa. “But I didn’t stop. And now I feel so much joy when people visit the house and take pictures.”

His next project may involve a home shaped like a car, he reveals.

“I would encourage anybody who has a dream to try and make it happen and not to rely on government funding or worry about criticisms,” he enthuses. “Everybody has a talent but not everybody makes use of theirs.”


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