CSBE was established in the summer of 1999, and initiated its first public activities in early 2000. We consequently have completed over five full years of working on exploring the built environment in Jordan and beyond.
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CSBE has continued organizing its architectural forum, Diwan al-Mimar, which has entered its sixth season. Eleven Diwan sessions were held in 2004. The Diwan al-Mimar sessions featured speakers from both inside and outside Jordan who included practitioners 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. Speakers to Diwan al-Mimar during 2004 included Pakistani architect, planner, and community development advocate Arif Hasan, British historian of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies Carole Hillenbrand, and British historian of Islamic art and architecture Robert Hillenbrand.
Diwan al-Mimar has been organized in association with Darat al-Funun / The Khalid Shoman Foundation. A special session of Diwan al-Mimar was organized in association with The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts / The Royal Society of Fine Arts, and another special session was organized in association with the Mamduh Bisharat Salon and the Dutch architectural magazine Archis. These two sessions were organized as semi-public lectures that were opened up to a larger audience.
Web News Section
CSBE has continued publishing its web news section, which was initiated at the beginning of 2000, and which aims at providing regular coverage of architectural developments relating to Jordan. The news items for 2003 were published in July 2004 as one news issue. CSBE fully funded the publication of the 2003 news issue through its own resources.
CSBE organized two courses during 2004. The first course was held in April, and was entitled "Introduction to Water Conserving Landscape Design." This intensive two-week course included about 40 contact hours, and was carried out in association with The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts / The Royal Society of Fine Arts. The course was led by Professor Margaret Livingston of the University of Arizona in Tucson and landscape architect Lara Zureikat of CSBE. Support for the course was provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program implemented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The second course was organized in June and was entitled "Introduction to Islamic Architecture." This extensive three-week course included over 45 contact hours. It was led by Professor Yasser Tabbaa', the noted historian of Islamic architecture, who currently is a visiting professor at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. It also included guest lectures by art and architectural historians Wijdan Ali, Mohammad al-Asad, and Ghazi Bisheh.
The course was organized primarily through CSBE resources. In this context, CSBE would like to thank the instructors involved in the course for providing support for it through offering their time on a pro bono basis.
Water Conserving Landscapes
Much of CSBE's activities during 2004 concentrated on completing its Water Conserving Landscapes project. The Water Conserving Landscapes project aims at researching and disseminating information on the principles and practices involved in the creation of water conserving landscapes. These activities included organizing the course on water conserving landscapes mentioned above. Another part of the project was publishing an illustrated Arabic-language manual on water conserving landscapes. All photographs and illustrations included in the manual were specifically commissioned for it.
CSBE also organized the jury for the competition for the design of a low-income water- and energy-efficient expandable housing unit in Aqaba. CSBE had announced the competition in November 2003. The jury awarded the first, second, and third prizes, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), which donated the award prizes, held an award distribution ceremony for the competition in Aqaba in May 2004. The eleven entries that participated in the competition also have been published on the CSBE web site.
CSBE has made other extensive additions to its web site that deal with water conserving landscapes. In addition to publishing the entries for the competition mentioned above, the expanded web site includes a digital version of the Arabic manual on water conserving landscapes (published in association with ArchNet, an online resource on the built environment in the Islamic world developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through support from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture) as well as an English version of the manual. An Arabic version of the CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes web site also has been developed. This Arabic version includes illustrated and non-illustrated drought-tolerant plant lists, as well as a number of essays on water conserving landscapes. In addition, CSBE has incorporated in its web site most of the articles on water conserving plants it is publishing in the Weekender Edition of The Jordan Times, the country's English daily.
Implementation of the redevelopment of the Jordan National Gallery Park in Jabal al-Luweibdeh as a model water-conserving park was initiated in the Spring of 2004, and is scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2005. The project is being carried out through close cooperation with The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts / The Royal Society of Fine Arts. CSBE had completed redesigning the park in 2003.
CSBE also made presentations regarding its Water Conserving Landscapes project in a number of venues. These venues included the International Water Demand Management Conference held at the Dead Sea in Jordan, and the Cityscape conference, held in Dubai.
This CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project has been 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 has been provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Municipality of Greater Amman and the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation also have provided considerable support for the implementation of the National Gallery Park.
With the completion of the National Gallery Park, the deliverables of the CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project would be completed.
CSBE completed the second 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 of 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 included 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. CSBE will be publishing its final report on graywater reuse in Jordan in the Spring of 2005.
Support for the first phase of the CSBE graywater reuse project was provided by a grant from the Enhanced Productivity Program at the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Support for the second phase of the project has been provided by a grant from the Small Grants Program of the British Embassy in Amman. CSBE also cooperated with Habitat for Humanity - Jordan in the implementation of graywater reuse units in rural areas in Jordan.
CSBE initiated its web-based CSBE Book Corner in January 2003. The Book Corner is intended as a continuously updated repository that provides a selection of publications dealing with issues relating to the built environment. It emphasizes publications dealing with the built environment in Jordan, and also publications on the built environment by Jordanian authors. The publications collected through the CSBE Book Corner are listed on the CSBE web site, and can be purchased directly from CSBE. The Book Corner has featured about 40 titles, many of which are not available in bookstores and are very difficult to locate in the marketplace.
Studies on Building Regulations for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA)
CSBE was commissioned to carry out two studies that aim at developing existing building regulations for ASEZA. The first study dealt with regulations for building colors and materials, and the second with signs and awnings for commercial buildings. Both studies have been completed, and the first study already has been developed into legislation.
Publication on Energy-Efficient Architecture
Mohammad al-Asad and Majd Musa of CSBE co-authored an article on energy efficiency in architecture entitled "The Built and Natural Environments: Reaching a State of Positive Coexistence." The article appeared in a special issue of Architectural Design entitled Islam and Architecture (See al-Asad, Mohammad, and Musa, Majd. "The Built and Natural Environments: Reaching a State of Positive Coexistence." In Islam and Architecture (a special issue of Architectural Design) 74, no. 6, London: Wiley-Academy, 2004. pp. 54 - 63.). CSBE still is seeking funding to initiate a research project on energy-efficient construction that aims at developing and disseminating information regarding this important field that would be of use to professionals involved in the building industry as well as users of buildings.
CSBE will be carrying out another study for ASEZA in association with the Jordanian consulting firm EcoConsult. The study deals with developing zoning solutions that address the spread of unlicensed shops in certain areas of Aqaba. The study aims at assessing existing conditions and developing solutions in a manner that takes into consideration the interests of the various involved stakeholders. The project involves carrying out research regarding different zoning approaches, designing and implementing surveys of the areas in question and their inhabitants, organizing community meetings with the involved stakeholders, and developing possible zoning solutions.
Architectural Laboratory II
CSBE plans to hold its second Architectural Laboratory design workshop during the summer of 2005. As with the first Architectural Laboratory, which was held in 2003, this one will include a series of one-week modules, each of which would be carried out by a noted architect/educator. These instructors will be from both inside and outside Jordan. The theme for Architectural Laboratory II will be "Collisions in Amman's Urban Fabric."
Exploring the Edge
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. CSBE has chosen a project for the third issue of Exploring the Edge. However, the project is in the final phases of construction, and CSBE will publish the upcoming issue of Exploring the Edge after the project is completed in the Spring of 2005.
Support for Exploring the Edge is provided by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago.
CSBE is cooperating on a project on urban agriculture that is being implemented by the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut through funding from Cities Feeding People Initiative of the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC). The project includes organizing courses and workshops that aim at raising the capacities of both public institutions and community organizations at developing urban agriculture projects. Urban agriculture has the potential of providing sources of food and income for urban communities, and also can contribute to greening the city and to constructing a sense of community among participants. CSBE hopes that the project would serve as a catalyst for developing other activities in the area of urban agriculture. This includes developing publications that would provide useful information for those who wish to engage in such projects, and also participating in establishing a pilot urban agriculture project in Jordan.
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 web 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. Visitors to the CSBE web site belong to over 80 countries. Their numbers during 2004 have ranged between approximately 1000 and 1400 per month.
The CSBE web site is indexed on a significant number of web sites based both inside and outside Jordan. These web sites link to the CSBE web site in general or to specific CSBE projects or publications featured on the CSBE web site.
In 2004, CSBE staff included four full-time staff members: the CSBE director, the documentation program officer, and the research and coordination officer for each of the Water Conserving Landscapes project and the Graywater Reuse project. Part-time staff members included the CSBE financial officer, and the technical managers of the Water Conserving Landscapes and the Graywater Reuse projects. The CSBE staff members include two Ph.D. degree holders, three master's degree holders, and two bachelor's degree holders. CSBE also regularly engages consultants for various projects.
A major challenge that CSBE faces continues to be achieving financial sustainability for its various projects. CSBE still relies on its limited resources to subsidize a number of its activities, as with the CSBE Book Corner, the CSBE news issues, and the course on Islamic architecture. CSBE continues to apply for grants for funding for its various projects. Unfortunately, obtaining such grants continues to be an extremely difficult task to accomplish since addressing the challenges facing the state of the built environment does not seem to be a priority for most donors.
CSBE has been able to carry out its various activities for 2004 on the limited budget of less than 70,000 JD (about 100,000 USD). The amount is considerably small in comparison to the amount of work that CSBE accomplishes. It should be noted that the CSBE budget does not include in-kind support, a level of unpaid work offered by the CSBE director, and disbursements that donors have paid directly to participants in CSBE projects or activities. Such participants have included lecturers, course instructors, and other consultants. The budget also does not include expenses connected to the implementation of the National Gallery Park that CSBE received from WEPIA and paid directly to various vendors involved in the implementation of the park.
Grants and Donations
Major sources of funding for CSBE during 2004 consisted of the grant from WEPIA for the CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project, the contract with ASEZA for the building regulations studies, and revenues from income-generating projects such as the Introduction to Water Conserving Landscape Design course. Obeidat and Freihat Attorneys & Counselors at Law continue to provide legal counseling on a pro bono basis. The use of the CSBE offices has been made possible by a contribution from the family of the late ‘Abd al-Rahim Jardaneh, who have allowed CSBE since its establishment to use a floor of the ‘Abd al-Rahim Jardaneh house as its offices. The first two stories of the house were built in 1935, and therefore it is considered one of the older surviving modern houses in Amman.
Also, Ms. Huda Jardaneh - al-Asad most generously has supported CSBE in the amount of 10,000 JD (14,000 USD). CSBE has invested the amount in the Amman Stock Exchange as the basis for an endowment.
CSBE is truly grateful for the generous support that these institutions and individuals have provided.
Finally, a special thank you is due to the CSBE staff members and members of the board of directors for all the efforts they have made in making 2004 a successful year for CSBE.