CSBE 2003 Annual Report

CSBE was established in the summer of 1999, and initiated its first public activities in early 2000. We consequently have completed over four full years of activities relating to exploring the built environment in Jordan and beyond.

Table of contents

1. Ongoing and Completed Activities

2. Plans for 2004

3. Web Site

4. Staff

5. Finances

Ongoing and Completed Activities:

a. Diwan al-Mimar:
CSBE has continued organizing its architectural forum, Diwan al-Mimar, which has entered its fifth season. Thirteen Diwan sessions were held in 2003, and they featured speakers from both inside and outside Jordan, who included public officials, practicing architects, and scholars working on issues relating to the built environment. Diwan al-Mimar provides a forum for accomplished professionals and scholars to present their research or work, and also for a high level of discussion of the presentations. The fifth season of Diwan al-Mimar was initiated with a presentation by Oleg Grabar, the distinguished scholar of Islamic art and architecture.

Diwan al-Mimar has been organized in association with Darat al-Funun / the Khalid Shoman Foundation.

Click here for additional information on Diwan al-Mimar

b. Public Lectures:
CSBE unfortunately did not organize any public lectures during 2003. This is partly due to the regional tensions resulting from the Iraq war, which made it difficult to invite speakers from outside Jordan. CSBE hopes to resume organizing public lectures in 2004.

c. Web News Section:
CSBE has continued publishing its web news section, which aims at providing regular coverage of architectural developments relating to Jordan, and which was initiated at the beginning of 2000. The last two quarterly news issues for 2002 were published in 2003 through support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago. The news items for 2003 will be published as one news issue. This is primarily because of the diminished architectural activity in Jordan during the first half of 2003 resulting from the war in Iraq. Another reason is that the Graham Foundation grant for the CSBE news section has ended (the grant covered the 2002 news issues), and the 2003 news issue therefore will need to be published through CSBE’s own resources.

d. Documentation of Lectures, Presentations, and Studies:
CSBE documented in the E-publications section of its web site a Diwan presentation and a public lecture it organized. The downloadable documentation for each presentation includes a substantial essay that deals with the contents of the presentation as well as the questions and answers that followed it. Also included are bibliographic references, images, and hyperlinks to related web sites. The two presentations documented during 2003 consist of the Diwan presentation made by Suha Ozkan, architectural theoretician and Secretary General of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and the public lecture presented by Saleh al-Hathloul, critic in architecture and urban planning and Deputy Minister for Town Planning at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. The essays dealing with both presentations have been very well received, and are being accessed regularly from the CSBE web site.

Support for the CSBE e-documentation is provided by a grant from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. Additional support has been provided by Darat al-Funun / the Khalid Shoman Foundation. Additional support for the documentation of the lecture by Saleh al-Hathloul was provided by the Jordan Engineers Association.

Click here to view the CSBE E-publications & resources section

e. Exploring the Edge:
CSBE published on its web site towards the end of 2003 the second issue of its annual feature Exploring the Edge. This second issue features two houses designed by architect Hani Imam Hussaini of Almarsam Architects and Engineers. Exploring the Edge aims at presenting examples of contemporary design projects relating to the built environment in Jordan that are both innovative and committed to design excellence. Each project featured in Exploring the Edge is provided with documentary information and an analytical framework relating to it. Exploring the Edge aims at bringing attention to innovative, high-quality built work being designed in Jordan, and at contributing to the development of a critical discourse on the built environment in the country.

Support for Exploring the Edge is provided by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago.

Click here for additional information on Exploring the Edge

f. The Architectural Laboratory:
CSBE organized this eight-week architectural design course during the summer of 2003. The event, which was entitled “Façade Zero,” was divided into eight modules of one week each with an established architect leading each of the modules. Admission to the Architectural Laboratory was limited to fifteen students to maintain a high level of interaction between the instructors and students. The students included upperclassmen and recent graduates from a number of Jordanian schools of architecture. The instructors included architects from both inside and outside Jordan. The Jordanian instructors were Bilal Hammad, Sahel al-Hiyari, Hani Imam Hussaini, Yasir Sakr (course coordinator), Jafar Tukan, and Farouq Yaghmour. The instructors from outside Jordan were George Katodrytis, Mehmet Konuralp, and Suha Ozkan.

The event was extremely successful and CSBE has initiated plans for organizing the second Architectural Laboratory in the summer of 2005.

The Architectural Laboratory was carried out in association with, and through support from, a number of institutions including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the American University of Sharjah, Darat al-Funun / the Khalid Shoman Foundation, and the Royal Society of Fine Arts / the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

Click here for additional information on the Architectural Laboratory

g. Water Conserving Landscapes:
CSBE initiated a new phase of its water conserving landscapes project during 2003. The water conserving landscapes project aims at researching and disseminating information on the principles and practices involved in the creation of water conserving landscapes. This new phase of the project consists of a number of components. These include organizing a course on water conserving landscapes to be taught by Professor Margaret Livingston of the University of Arizona that is scheduled for April 2004. The project also includes developing an Arabic version of the section of the CSBE web site devoted to water conserving landscapes that is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2004. In addition, CSBE has organized a competition for the design of a low-income water- and energy-efficient expandable housing unit in Aqaba, which was announced in November 2003. The design entries for the competition are due in March 2004, and the competition jury is scheduled for April 2004. The competition has received considerable publicity and has been featured in numerous web sites including those of ArchNet, ArchNewsNow, LayerMag, and the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter from outside Jordan, and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Jordanian Engineers Association from inside Jordan. CSBE also completed designs for the redevelopment of the Jordan National Gallery Park in Jabal al-Luweibdeh as a model water-conserving park, and has participated in securing the necessary funds for it. Construction for the park is scheduled to begin in early 2004. The project is being carried out through close cooperation with the Royal Society of Fine Arts / the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. A manual on water conserving landscapes also has been written in both Arabic and English. The Arabic version will be published in print form and on the CSBE web site, and the English version will be published on the CSBE web site. The publications are scheduled for the spring of 2004. CSBE also has continued to contribute biweekly articles on water conserving gardens to the Weekender edition of the English-language daily The Jordan Times, and CSBE staff have delivered a number of public lectures on the subject.

Current funding for the CSBE water conserving landscapes project is scheduled to end in August 2004. CSBE and a number of other organizations have been in contact regarding carrying out new projects relating to water conserving landscapes after the current project comes to an end.

This project is being carried out in association with a number of partner institutions. These include the University of Arizona in Tucson, an internationally recognized center for research and teaching related to landscaping for water-scarce environments. Funding for the project is provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Additional support for the low-income housing competition in Aqaba has been provided by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

In this context, it should be added that CSBE has been cooperating with the Jordan offices of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) on developing sustainable water conserving landscaping schemes for the local community center and the girls’ school in the village of ‘Adasiyya in the Northern Jordan Valley. The implementation of the landscaping scheme for the local community center has been completed, and parts of the work on the girls’ school have been implemented, with the remaining work scheduled for completion in the spring of 2004. CSBE and MCC also have initiated a project aimed at developing water conserving landscaping schemes for the village of al-Wahadneh near Ajlun.

Click here for additional information on the CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project

h. Graywater Reuse:
CSBE completed the first phase of its graywater reuse project. The project aims at investigating, implementing, and promoting graywater reuse at the small and medium scales in the domestic and service sector context. The project has examined existing applications of graywater reuse in other countries, and has evaluated their technical, social, and economic feasibility. It also has investigated the social, economic, climatic, and other environmental factors that may have a bearing on the implementation of graywater reuse systems in Jordan, and has developed, in conjunction with Jordanian professionals, graywater solutions suited to the particular context of Jordan. This has allowed CSBE to implement and participate in the implementation of a number of graywater reuse schemes in both urban and rural areas in Jordan. The dissemination of practical information on graywater reuse to developers, construction professionals, and the interested public has been carried out through various means including exhibitions, workshops, publishing a brochure, and developing an extensive section in the CSBE web site in both Arabic and English that provides in-depth information on graywater reuse.

The second phase of the CSBE graywater reuse project includes continuing a number of the activities of the first phase of the project, monitoring the graywater systems that CSBE had implemented during the first phase of the project, and disseminating the application of graywater reuse in rural areas in Jordan. The second phase of the project is scheduled to end in the summer of 2004.

Support for the first phase of the CSBE graywater reuse project was provided by a grant from the Enhanced Productivity Program at the Ministry of Planning. Support for the second phase of the project is provided by a grant from the British Embassy Small Grants Program. CSBE also is cooperating with Habitat for Humanity – Jordan in the implementation of graywater reuse units in rural areas in Jordan.

Click here for additional information on the CSBE Graywater Reuse project


 Plans for 2004

a. Continuation of Existing Activities:
During 2004, CSBE will proceed with and further develop a number of its ongoing activities. These include Diwan al-Mimar, the CSBE architectural news, the CSBE lectures and presentations documentation program, Exploring the Edge, and the Architectural Laboratory. CSBE also will continue work on its two specialized projects, the water conserving landscapes and the graywater reuse projects.

b. New projects:

b.1. An introductory course on the architecture of the Islamic world:
CSBE is proceeding with plans for organizing an introductory course on the architecture of the Islamic world that would be the equivalent of a 3-credit university course. The course, which will cover the evolution of architecture in the Islamic world from the rise of Islam until the present, will be taught by Professor Yasser Tabbaa’, an internationally acclaimed scholar of Islamic architecture, who has taught at a number of important universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Michigan, and Oberlin College. The course also will host a number of visiting lecturers. This intensive course is scheduled to take place during the evenings over a period of three weeks in June 2004.

CSBE also is making arrangements for organizing another three-week course on architectural photography with the renowned San Francisco-based photographer Said Nuseibeh.

The course on the architecture of the Islamic world will be organized in association with the Royal Society of Fine Arts / the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

b.2. Energy-Efficient Buildings:
CSBE had carried out preliminary research work on the subject of photovoltaic solar cells through joint funding from CSBE and Habitat for Humanity – Jordan. CSBE is now expanding the scope of this project to include energy-efficient buildings in general. The creation of energy-efficient buildings relies on incorporating landscaping as an energy-conserving tool, using energy-efficient construction materials and practices, incorporating the principles of passive solar architectural design, as well as using alternative renewable energy resources such as the electricity generated through photovoltaic cells. The project will include publishing extensive guidelines regarding the creation of energy-efficient buildings on the CSBE web site, in both Arabic and English, and cooperating with individuals and institutions on the design and implementation of such buildings. A proposal has been developed for this project and CSBE will shortly initiate the seeking of funds for it.

b.3. Other Projects:
CSBE also is exploring methods that would enable it to realize a number of its projects that remain in the planning phase. Of special importance is the project that aims at developing an extensive online database on products for the construction industry in Jordan. It is envisioned that such a database would facilitate the exchange of information between the providers and consumers of products relating to the construction industry in the country, and would greatly contribute to increasing the efficiency of this important segment of the Jordanian economy.


 Web Site:

CSBE greatly depends on its web site for the dissemination of its work to a wide audience. Through its web presence, most of the information that CSBE publishes is available to anybody, anywhere in the world with access to the Internet. In fact, we view the CSBE web site as much more than an online brochure since it contains extensive documentation regarding most of the work that CSBE implements. By now, the site consists of hundreds of pages that include reports, research papers, databases, architectural news items, and documentation of lectures. New information is added to the web site on a regular basis, and the additions are announced to the CSBE email list, which consists of about 800 email addresses. The CSBE web site receives considerable traffic. Its visitors belong to over 80 countries. The number of visitors per month is increasing regularly and currently exceeds 1200 visitors.