Center for the Study of the Built Environment: 2014 Annual Report


During 2014, CSBE took part in preparations for the ceremony of the first cycle of the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture, an international award founded by the Saudi Arabian Al Fozan Group. In addition, CSBE completed the seventh cycle of the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design. Moreover, the CSBE team taught an Arabic-language Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the contemporary Arab city for the Edraak platform. This is the first MOOC ever given on this subject, and the first MOOC ever given in Arabic on subjects relating to architecture and urbanism. CSBE also carried out a research project and a public survey that explore the possibilities for establishing cycling paths in Jordan. As for CSBE's 2014 budget, it showed a deficit of 15,575 JD.

Projects and activities:

Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture

Al Fozan Group, one of Saudi Arabia's larger holding companies, and which includes a consortium of establishments that are involved in manufacturing, trade, and financial services, founded in 2012 an international architectural Award for mosque architecture. Al Fozan Group approached CSBE to work with them on establishing the Award and on the various tasks involved in administering its first cycle. CSBE consequently closely worked with the Group on establishing the Award as well as announcing it and disseminating information relating to it to the public. Among other tasks, CSBE also worked on developing extensive documentation in both English and Arabic of the winning mosques as well as those nominated for the Award. The ceremony for the first cycle of the Award took place in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia in February 2014.

View information on the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture


The Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design

CSBE completed in 2014 the seventh cycle of the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design,* which CSBE and the regional architectural and engineering firm Omrania and Associates had established in 2008. Students of architecture graduating from universities in Arab countries may submit their graduation projects for the Award. Over 90 projects from 28 universities from 10 Arab countries were submitted for the seventh cycle of the Award. The number of submitted projects was relatively small in comparison to previous cycles because of the difficult conditions of political instability that a few Arab countries have been experiencing.

An independent three-member jury consisting of Palestinian architect Senan Abdelqadir, Turkish architect Emre Arolat, and Moroccan architect Saad El Kabaaj met in Amman in October 2014 to assess the projects and select the winning entries. Emre Arolat also delivered a public lecture about his work while in Amman for the jury meetings. The Award ceremony and exhibition took place in the Amman Electricity Hangar Building in downtown Amman in December 2014.

The jury selected six equal first place winners and five equal second place winners. The winning projects were by students from Al al-Bayt University in Mafraq, Jordan, the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, the American Lebanese University, the American University of Beirut, the Jordan University of Science and Technology, King Saud University, al-Najah National University in Nablus, Petra University in Amman, and the University of Jordan. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture kindly supported the participation of Emre Arolat in the Award's jury.

Moreover, the Award ceremony for the 2013 sixth cycle as well as the first screening of the film Arab Women in Architecture, which was produced as part of the Award's sixth cycle, took place at the German Jordanian University in Amman in January 2014. Additional screenings took place in Athens, Beirut, New York, and Ramallah during the course of 2014.

*Beginning with the Award's seventh cycle, its name has been shortened from the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Excellence in Architectural Design to the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design.

View detailed information on the seven cycles of the Award
View the poster for the Award's 2014 public lecture by Emre Arolat
View the Award's Facebook page
View information on the screening of the Arab Women in Architecture film

Online publications

CSBE has continued to actively expand the content of its website during 2014. This has included publishing an English translation of its Arabic report "City Management in Jordan: Challenges Awaiting Solutions," which CSBE originally published in 2013.

Moreover, CSBE published in collaboration with the Zaha Foundation / Zaha Center for Children in Amman an extensive report on cycling in Jordan. The report included the results of a survey on the subject in which more than 820 participants took part. It also included a detailed study about cycling projects around the world. It is hoped that the report will be a first step towards establishing cycling lanes in Jordan. 

CSBE also has added a new section entitled "Amman's Worth-Noticing Urban Elements and Early Modern Buildings." Over ten buildings, parks, and urban spaces have been featured through this section so far. Considerable visual and textual documentation is provided for each of them.

In addition, CSBE has asked a number of distinguished colleagues from different countries to each provide a list of their favorite books on architecture and the built environment, and to explain why they selected those books. Eleven lists were published in 2014.

CSBE has documented on its website the various community development projects through interactive design it has carried out over the years. These projects have aimed at bringing about physical improvements to local communities through an interactive design process that actively involves the members of the community.

CSBE also continued to publish on its website the Moustadam articles by Nourhan Al Kurdi and the Urban Crossroads articles by Mohammad al-Asad.

View the English translation of the report on city management in Jordan
View the reports of the CSBE | Zaha Foundation Cycling Project
View the Amman's Worth-Noticing Urban Elements and Early Modern Buildings section
View the Favorite Booklists on Architecture and the Built Environment section
View the Community Development through Interactive Design section
View the Moustadam Articles
View the Urban Crossroads Articles
View the CSBE E-publications & Resources section


CSBE Films

CSBE produced two short films in 2014. CSBE had interviewed Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury during the making of the film Arab Women in Architecture. Considering that only a very small part of the interview appeared in the film, we accordingly produced two short videos from it in which he talks about his family, shares memories of his journey as a young architect, and contemplates about the practice of architecture in Lebanon. The first film is Collaboration in Architecture in Lebanon, and the second is Bernard Khoury: Mother, Father, Children, Extended Family, and Architecture.

CSBE also screened a number of its films. In addition to screening Arab Women in Architecture, CSBE screened its Innovation. Design. Fabrication. Three stories on Jordanian innovators at the Ruwwad community development center and the Jubilee School in Amman.

View the CSBE Films section

Social media presence

CSBE continues to strive for a significant social media presence through its Facebook page and its Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. These feature regular postings about CSBE's publications and activities, as well as postings with outside links to articles, videos, and events of interest to those concerned with the built environment.

CSBE also continues to manage the Omrania | CSBE Student Award Facebook page and Twitter account. These aim at disseminating detailed information about the Award.

CSBE in addition continues to administer the Remembering Ali Maher Facebook page to honor the memory of the remarkable Jordanian artist and architect Ali Maher, who died on June 10, 2013. The page includes testimonies by Ali’s friends and colleagues, photographs of Ali, as well a selection of his paintings.

The number of "Likes" for the CSBE Facebook page exceeded 4,100 at the end of 2014; the number of “Likes” for the Omrania | CSBE Student Award page exceeded 5,100; and the number of “Likes” for the Remembering Ali Maher page exceeded 750.

View the CSBE Facebook page
View the Omrania | CSBE Student Award Facebook page
View the Remember Ali Maher Facebook page
View the CSBE Twitter feed
View the Omrania | CSBE Student Award Twitter feed
View the CSBE LinkedIn page


The CSBE team delivered in association with the Edraak platform of the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development a seven-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Arabic entitled The Contemporary Arab City. This is the first MOOC ever given on this subject, and the first MOOC ever given in Arabic on subjects relating to architecture and urbanism. 253 Students completed the requirements for this seven-week course that took place in October and November, and 5737 students had registered for it. The course was taught by CSBE Founding Director Mohammad al-Asad, and was assisted by CSBE Research and Coordination Officers Farah Tell and Tooma Zaghloul. A repeat of the course is planned for the summer of 2015.

CSBE also organized in March 2014 a two-day design workshop entitled Intuitive Visualization in Architecture. The workshop was led by architect and painter Sahel Al Hiyari with the assistance of architect Shereen Talhouni. It was held at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine arts.

View the CSBE courses section


Staff members

CSBE Research and Coordination Officer Ahmad Abu-Khalaf resigned from CSBE in the summer to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning at the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Ahmad is the second CSBE staff member to attend CAPLA. CSBE and the University of Arizona have been affiliated through a Memorandum of Understanding since 2001.

View the CSBE sections on current and past staff members


CSBE continues to function on a limited budget, particularly in comparison to its outputs. CSBE’s main source of income for 2014 included work on the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award and carrying out the Contemporary Arab City course for which the Edraak platform provided partial support. Total income amounted to about 31,735 JD, and total expenses amounted to about 47,310 JD. This resulted in a deficit of about 15,575 JD. The deficit was covered from the surplus accumulated from previous years (note: 1 JD = 1.41 USD).

Obeidat and Freihat Attorneys & Counselors at Law continued to provide legal counseling to CSBE on a pro bono basis. Also, Mohammad al-Asad continued to give a considerable amount of his time to CSBE on an unpaid basis. CSBE is grateful for their support.

Finally, a special thanks is due to the CSBE staff and members of the board of directors for all the efforts they made in ensuring that 2014 was a successful year for the Center.

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