Noor Marji, German Jordanian University, Amman, Jordan
The seed from which the idea of “SQUARE ONE” emerged was the need for total reform, not only of the deteriorating educational system in Amman but also the social structure of the city and the people’s perception of “the other”. It is the idea that challenged the concept of the “connection”, literally and metaphorically, stitching together the edges of the urban fabric while also bringing people together and shedding light on the educational problems that the library addresses. Rebuilding the mountain and restructuring the society around it was the analogy.
Following the international exposure that my project has received, great interest was shown in the idea of actually realizing the project. It has since then been presented to multiple official authorities including the Greater Amman Municipality and the Latin Patriarchal Authorities represented by the Bishop, who is, in fact, the owner of the land on which the project was designed. Through those discussions, the central questions that arose were “If this project were to be built, will it generate revenue? Will it be cost-efficient? Will it be environmentally, financially, and socially sustainable?”Square One: Urban Library and Learning Center in Amman (PDF, 21.36 MB) »
The first of four Next Generation prizes in the region went to Heidi van Eeden from South Africa. She is developing new sustainable methods of brickmaking in Soshanguve township, South Africa. The second prize went to Nour Madi, Jad Melki and Ghaith Abi Ghanem from Lebanon. They are investigating ways of rebuilding the war-ravaged city of Aleppo in Syria using the rubble of destroyed buildings. Nada Nafeh from Egypt received the third prize in this category. With her project, she aims to improve living conditions in informal settlements in Cairo. The fourth prize went to Noor Marji of Jordan. She proposes a monumental terraced learning center in Amman, Jordan.Read more »
Is it a building, an infrastructure, or a patch of landscape? As a matter of fact, “Steps of Amman” in Jordan is a proposal for a hybrid structure, one simultaneously taking on architectural and infrastructural traits at once, while restoring a piece of the city’s undulating terrain. The structure furthermore combines a range of public functions: an urban square in form of a stair and an urban library embedded within one of the city’s hills. More than just a project for a building, the design makes a plea for reinforcing the civic role of architecture in contemporary culture. Though monumental in its scale and mass, the building is hardly noticeable as a structure in its own right, for it seamlessly merges with the city’s topography. Below ground, users discover another world, one dedicated to the promotion of culture as public good.
Culture, as a form of interaction and key activity of civic life, evolves as the central theme of the design proposition. It is in this regard that the jury enthusiastically applauded the architectural and spatial qualities of the structure as a carefully crafted piece of civic architecture within the city fabric of Amman. Of particular importance is the sequence of public spaces both on top and below the stair, the latter potentially to be read as an amalgam of the Spanish Steps in Rome (though less lavish) and the Villa Malaparte in Capri (though less sculptural in its appearance). Additionally, the jury valued the beauty of the drawings that truly empower architecture as an art in its own right.
Celebrating the Ammani stairs
Coming from the notion of public stairs as the original Ammani public spaces as well as the main connection between the upper and lower edges of the hilly downtown terrain. The project serves as a mediator between the edges, connecting them all together in one point despite their contrasting qualities. By using the same language as the city of Amman, the project is very sensitive to its surroundings and blends in seamlessly. The project provides a green lung for the area as well as public plazas and spaces for meeting and gathering. The indoors are brought outdoors through activities such as book fairs, sports, and outdoor classrooms. It creates a common ground and initiates dialogue between the edges, which can in turn become a positive starting point for change and reform.
The project focuses on many factors for environmentally sustainable design. The site is an existing cut in the mountain, and the project fills that gap without digging any further into the slope. It is located near a public transportation hub to encourage the use of public transport. Main north glass facades as well as glass risers are designed to fully optimize daylight and allow it to penetrate throughout the interior. Indoor courtyards provide cross ventilation as well as green indoor gathering areas. The architecture is integrated with the landscape by bringing the outdoors indoors and vice-versa. The project aims to stitch the surrounding urban fabric, and that has a positive impact on the community and its context, as the locals would be able to consider it a part of their city.
An important issue that was addressed was social sustainability. The project aims to encourage people to want to learn and explore through an interactive experience that would reshape the educational system and at the same time empower the youth and enrich this area, adding value to the existing cultural context. This translates both on the exterior as well as interior functions. The digital and traditional libraries, sports facilities as well as the learning center address the locals’ needs for proper educational facilities, as the existing ones are in a below average condition. Book fairs and other outdoor activities are held in plazas to invite the locals and visitors to come together. Indoor spaces are designed to ensure an open and welcoming atmosphere that encourages dialog.See more
A project for an urban stair and library in Amman, Jordan connects people and leverages the entire community says Noor …
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