Center for the Study of the Built Environment: 2016 Annual Report

 

Summary

During 2016, CSBE completed the ninth cycle of the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design, and carried out a policy study on public transportation in Jordan. In addition, CSBE proceeded with its Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project, which involves redesigning and rehabilitating the grounds for three public middle-schools located at the outskirts of Amman through an interactive process that involves the school's students. As for CSBE's 2015 budget, it showed a surplus of 9,780 JD, thus reversing two years of deficits.
 

Projects and activities

Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project

CSBE worked throughout 2016 on its Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project, which is funded by the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program in Jordan. The project includes redesigning and rehabilitating the grounds for three public middle-schools located at the outskirts of Amman through a highly interactive process that involves the schools' students. These processes aim at promoting civic responsibility among the youth by creating opportunities for them to take part in designing and implementing improvements to their school environments, thus promoting a sense of belonging to and ownership of their schools.

CSBE carried out a series of interactive sessions with the students at each of the schools that introduced them to the basics of design and construction. Through this process, we have identified the improvements that the students wish to have carried out in their schools. These include an outdoor classroom and herb garden in one school, a football field in another, and a stair connecting the upper part of the school grounds with its lower part. In addition, a mural featuring a theme identified by the students has been designed in each school.

The designs for these interventions and improvements have been completed. Work on their implementation was initiated in December 2016, and is scheduled for completion in the early 2017.
 

The Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design

CSBE completed in 2016 the ninth 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 200 projects from 38 universities from 11 Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) were submitted for this cycle of the Award.

The Award jury consisted of Irish architect Róisín Heneghan, cofounder of Heneghan Peng Architects; Jordanian architect Ammar Khamash,  principal architect and founder of Khammash Architects; and Iranian-American architect and educator Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design there. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture kindly provided support for the participation of Mohsen Mostafavi in the Award's jury. In addition, Róisín Heneghan delivered a public lecture entitled “Two landscapes: The Palestinian Museum and the Grand Egyptian Museum” while in Amman for the jury's meetings.

The Award jury members met in Amman in October to evaluate the participating entries and select the winners. They selected four first-place winning projects, each of which received USD 3,750, and five honorable mentions. The winning projects were from the American University of Beirut, the American University of Sharjah, and the German Jordanian University. The honorable mentions were from the American University of Beirut, the American University of Sharjah, the Jordan University of Science and Technology, and the University of Petra.

The Award ceremony and exhibition were held in Amman in November at the Amman Electricity Hangar.
 

Policy study on public transportation in Jordan

CSBE has continued in 2016 the work it has been carrying out on the topic of public transportation in Jordan. It has followed up on the study it previously carried out on the users' experience of public transportation in Amman with a policy study on public transportation in Jordan that is based on carrying out a series of interviews with operators as well as previous and current legislators and regulators. The study has been implemented in association with the Fredrich Ebert Foundation, and its results will be launched in early 2017.

View CSBE’s publications on mobility and public transportation

Online publications

CSBE has continued to actively expand the content of its website during 2016. This has included the following sections:

List of CSBE’s Favorite Exposed Concrete Buildings in Amman

List of CSBE’s Favorite Plaster Buildings in Jordan

Two articles on urbanism by CSBE staff member Ali Attari (Pokemon Go: A New Avenue for Urban exploration and Re-imagining our Roads with Self-Driving Cars)

New additions to the CSBE plant list

New additions to Amman's Worth-Noticing Urban Elements and Early Modern Buildings
 

Social media presence

CSBE continues to strive for a significant social media presence through its Facebook pages. 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, which aims 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, as well as photographs of Ali and of a selection of his paintings.

The number of "Likes" for the CSBE Facebook page exceeded 5,700 at the end of 2016; the number of “Likes” for the Omrania | CSBE Student Award page exceeded 6,400; and the number of “Likes” for the Remembering Ali Maher page is approaching 900.

View the CSBE Facebook page

View the Omrania | CSBE Student Award Facebook page

View the Remembering Ali Maher Facebook page
 

Other activities

In addition to the activities mentioned above, CSBE participated in the Al-Hussein Society Garden and Flower Show in the Amman al-Abdali Boulevard, where we featured a number of publications on water conserving landscapes as well as a number of water conserving plants.

CSBE also took part in the Amman Design Week activities by organizing a workshop entitled Participatory Design Methods. The workshop was open to the public, and was attended by the maximum number of fifteen participants we can accommodate for such an event.

CSBE staff

CSBE Research and Coordination Officer Tooma Zaghloul resigned from CSBE in the summer of 2016 to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Tooma is the third CSBE staff member to carry out graduate studies at UIUC. He also is the latest of a number of CSBE staff members who moved on through CSBE's support to continue their graduate studies or hold research fellowships at institutions including the City College of New York, the École Superieure des Affaires in Beirut, Harvard University, the Instituto Superior de Agronomia in Lisbon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Arizona, and the University of Illinois.

Two new Research and Coordination Officers joined CSBE in 2016. They are Ali Attari, who received his bachelor's degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Davis in 2013; and Yasmine Abuzeid, who received her bachelor's degree in interior architecture from the George Washington University in 2016.

CSBE finances

CSBE continues to function on a very limited budget, particularly in comparison to its outputs. CSBE’s primary income for 2016 included support obtained from Omrania and Associates for carrying out the Omrania | CSBE Student Award, and from the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program for carrying out the Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project.

Total income for CSBE in 2016 amounted to about 119,510 JD, and total expenses amounted to about 109,730 JD. This resulted in a surplus of about 9,780 JD, which provides a reversal of the deficit that CSBE had incurred in 2014 and 2015 (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, CSBE Director Mohammad al-Asad continued to give a considerable part 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 board of directors for all the efforts they made in ensuring that 2016 was a successful year for the Center.