Center for the Study of the Built Environment: 2017 Annual Report



During 2017, CSBE completed the first phase and proceeded with the second phase of its Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project, which involves redesigning and rehabilitating the grounds of a number of public middle-schools. In addition, CSBE completed the tenth cycle of the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design. We also produced a film about the 2016 cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in association with the Award. Moreover, CSBE produced three public announcement videos relating to public transportation in Jordan, and organized a hackathon for developing mobile apps addressing the topic. As for CSBE's 2017 budget, it showed a deficit of 11,020 JD.


Projects and activities

Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project

CSBE continued work in 2017 on its Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project, which is funded by the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program in Jordan and carried out in association with the Queen Rania Teacher Academy. The project includes redesigning and rehabilitating the grounds for a number of public middle-schools located at the outskirts of Amman through a highly interactive process that involves the schools' students, teachers, and administrators. 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 identified the improvements that the students wish to see in their school grounds. For the first phase of the project, which addressed three schools, these improvements included an outdoor classroom and herb garden in one school, a football field in another, and a sizable stair connecting the upper part of the school grounds with its lower part. In addition, a mural featuring a theme selected by the students was designed and implemented in each school.

The second phase of the project continues its first phase of holding interactive design sessions with the students and implementing the improvements they identified through the sessions. For this phase, we have continued working in two of the three schools involved in the first phase of the project, and also have added another four new schools.

In addition, we have emphasized in this second phase working on promoting the sustainability of the project by carrying out a series of training sessions on participatory design with university students, professional architects, and Ministry of Education staff. The participants in the workshops also have been given the option of taking part in the participatory design sessions we have carried out at the schools, and in the implementation of improvements in them. Through this engagement, we hope that a number of the trainees may carry out similar initiatives in schools on their own in the future.

Moreover, we are working with smaller budgets for the improvements being carried out in the schools involved in this second phase of the project in order to test what improvements may be carried out under considerable budgetary constraints. Being able to carry out such improvements using smaller budgets will make it more possible to continue the activities of the project in the future.

It also should be noted that an installation presenting the project was exhibited at the 2017 Amman Design Week. The installation was designed by the Amman Design Week team with input from CSBE.

The second phase of the project is intended to be completed during the middle of 2018.

The Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design

CSBE completed in 2017 the tenth 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 210 projects from 47 universities from 14 Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) were submitted for this cycle of the Award.

The Award jury consisted of Jordanian architect Sahel Al Hiyari, Principal Architect at Sahel Al Hiyari and Partners in Amman; Hanif Kara, Design Director and co-founder of AKT II in London and Professor in the Practice of Architectural Technology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; and Han Tümertekin, Principal Architect of Mimarlar ve Han Tümertekin in Istanbul, and Atelier Han Tümertekin in Strasbourg. For this tenth cycle of the Award, we decided to invite jury members who had served on the juries of previous cycles of the Award as they would be in a good position to assess the Award’s evolution and impacts since its establishment a decade ago.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture kindly provided support for the participation of Hanif Kara in the Award's jury. In addition, Hanif Kara delivered a public lecture entitled “The Design of Engineering” while in Amman for the jury's meetings.

The Award jury members met in Amman in September to evaluate the participating entries and select the winners. They selected four Honorable Mentions and five Projects of Merit, amongst which the Award’s 10,000 USD prize money was divided. These Award recipient projects were from Alexandria University, the American University of Beirut, the American University of Sharjah, Birzeit University, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik – USEK (Lebanon), the Jordan University of Science and Technology, the University of Jordan, and the University of Petra (Jordan).

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

Public transportation in Jordan

CSBE has continued in 2017 the work it has been carrying out for a number of years on the topic of public transportation in Jordan. It 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 is available on the CSBE website, and its results were launched at a public event in February 2017.

In addition, CSBE produced three short public announcement videos relating to public transportation. One of them addresses the recently passed Transport Law; the second addresses the Amman Bus Rapid Transit project; and the third addresses the Khutoutna mobile app, which was conceived through the public transportation initiative Ma’an Nasel, and which provides a trip planner for public transportation routes in Amman.

Moreover, CSBE has worked with the Khutoutna app developers to develop a second and improved version of the app, which will be made available to the public in 2018. Moreover, CSBE organized a hackathon aimed at developing public transportation apps for Jordan that would build upon the Khutoutna app. Over fifty teams participated in the hackathon. An independent jury selected three winners from among the participants.

CSBE’s activities in 2017 relating to public transportation were implemented in association with the Amman office of the Fredrich Ebert Foundation.

View CSBE’s publications on mobility and public transportation


CSBE produced a new film in 2017 entitled “Six Jordanian Architects Talk about the Six Winning Projects of the 2016 Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.” The film, which was produced in association with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, consists of interviews with Jordanian architects Meisa Batayneh, Rami Daher, Leen Fakhoury, Sahel Al Hiyari, Mohammed Khaled, and Ayman Zuaiter. The film was screened at the 2017 Amman Design Week in September 2017.

Open Online Courses

CSBE started work on producing an open online course in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture entitled “Enhancing the Quality of Urban Life: Fifteen Winning Projects of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.” The course will become available to the public in 2018. This is the second open online course that CSBE has developed (the first one was on the contemporary Arab city), and is part of CSBE’s efforts to keep abreast of ongoing technological and pedagogical developments as it works on disseminating knowledge relating to the built environment to the public.

Online publications

CSBE has continued to actively expand the content of its website during 2017. New material added to the website has included the following items:

- Republishing the articles on water conserving landscapes that CSBE had published between 2002 and 2004 in The Jordan Times on the CSBE website


- Additions to the “Amman's Worth-Noticing Spaces and Places” section (

- An article by CSBE Research and Coordination Manager Ali Attar entitled “Why Don’t We Build A Metro Instead?” in which he discusses the differences between Metro and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems


- An article by CSBE intern Ian James entitled “Amman’s 1987 and 2008 Master Plans” (

- An infograhic showing a number of historical minaret types


- An interactive map showing the change in per capita CO2 emissions by country between 2008 and 2013 (

- An assessment of the Amman Municipality's recently completed al-Khalidi Street rehabilitation project that includes images and videos of the street


- An interactive map that documents the different works of street art in Amman


- Republishing a “Sketch Map of Petra” from April 1929 that was drawn by Tawfiq Cannan (Kan’an), and is based on a map developed earlier by Alois Musil


- An article on the Hamra' al-Asad Neighborhood Initiative in al-Madinah in Saudi Arabia, which features carefully-designed low-cost and limited architectural and urban interventions that have contributed to improving the quality of life in the neighborhood


- “Wishes for Amman in 2017,” in which three experts in different areas relating to the built environment, Myriam Ababsa, Ammar Khammash, and Hazem Zureiqat, share some of the developments they would like to see regarding Amman's built environment in 2017 (

Social media presence

CSBE continues to strive for a significant social media presence through its Facebook page. 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.

The number of "Likes" for each of the CSBE and Omrania | CSBE Student Award page Facebook page exceeded 7,000 at the end of 2017.

View the CSBE Facebook page

View the Omrania | CSBE Student Award Facebook page


CSBE Research and Coordination Officer Yasmine Abuzeid resigned from CSBE in 2017 to pursue other opportunities. Reef Qubailat, who holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the German Jordanian University, joined CSBE as a new Research and Coordination Officer.


CSBE continues to function on a very limited budget, particularly in comparison to its outputs. CSBE’s primary income for 2017 included support obtained from Omrania and Associates for carrying out the Omrania | CSBE Student Award, from the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program for carrying out the Enhancing Civic Responsibility of Youth in Schools project, and from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for work on the film on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and on the open online course “Enhancing the Quality of Urban Life.”

Total income for CSBE in 2017 amounted to about 75,810 JD, and total expenses amounted to about 86,830JD. This resulted in a deficit of about 11,020 JD, most of which has been covered by CSBE’s 2016 surplus (note: 1 JD = 1.41 USD).

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

Finally, a special thank you is due to the CSBE staff and board of directors for all the efforts they made to ensure that 2017 was a successful year for the Center.