The Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design
2012 Fifth Cycle Winners


141 architectural graduation projects from 34 Universities from 11 countries in the Arab World were submitted for the fifth cycle of the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Excellence in Architectural Design. The projects came from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Award jury consisted of Khalid Omar Azzam, the director of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London; Farrokh Derakhshani, the director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and Ahmad Humeid, the CEO of SYNTAX, a brand, design, and innovation firm in Jordan. The Award jury awarded equal winning prizes to five projects, and selected four honorable mentions. The winners are as follows:


Dunia Abu Shanab

Project: Spatial Prosthetic, Dubai, UAE

American University of Sharjah

Instructor: George Katodrytis

This project, which is located in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, was developed as both a criticism and a metaphor of the world of fantasy and dreams that Dubai suggests. The project provides a critical reflection of the urban developments that have been taking place in Dubai. It particularly addresses the crippling effects of the 2008 financial crisis on Dubai's real estate sector, and how it has brought construction on more than 400 towers to a halt.

This project suggests that unfinished construction sites in Dubai may be used and brought back to life through a series of events. Performances of light and video projections therefore would be carried out within a number of pods that are plugged onto unfinished structures.


Salsabeel Amin

Project: Street Book Community Park, Old Cairo, Egypt

American University in Cairo

Instructor: Zeinab Shafik

The project tackles the issue of community engagement in Egypt, concentrating on the older parts of Cairo. This issue has received renewed attention and importance after the Egyptian revolution.

StreetBook shows an awareness of ongoing social change, and how people are defining their expectations and responsibilities as they try to find their own solutions to the urban problems of a neglected area. In doing so, they would work with NGO’s, whose efforts in community development have become scattered and unorganized because of the constrictions that the old regime had placed on them.

This project uses the approach of architectural mobility. It creates a strong communal identity that attracts the community through developing a central location where people can come together. However, it also features mobile architecture units made of shipping containers that are dispersed throughout the community according to its continuously changing needs (social, educational, …), and that are arranged through a flexible network of open and enclosed spaces.


Nourhan El Badry

Project: Awareness through Experience... Connecting Solar Elements, Aswan, Egypt

American University in Cairo

Instructors: Magda Mostafa and Basil Kamel

This community center project is located in the Aswan desert, which is characterized by extreme climatic conditions. The project aims at raising awareness regarding solar energy in the local Aswan community. This is achieved by creating a space that depends on solar energy for its needs; that is built through local labor and with local materials; and that creates a strong sense of place.

The quality of the project's spaces continuously changes as a result of the sun’s movement, forming a variety of patterns and shadows. The sun therefore affects the aesthetic formation of the place and also provides it with its energy needs. Through this, awareness is achieved through experience.


Ghida Hachicho

Project: Looking Within, intervening in the old Saida town, Saida, Lebanon

American University of Beirut

Instructor: George Arbid

This project presents alternative interventions in the historical urban texture of the old town of Saida (Sidon). It aims at understanding the history and culture of the place by establishing a new architectural configuration where the old and new parts of Saida are in permanent dialogue. It is an investigation of history as layers resulting from continuous alterations and additions.

These interventions are achieved by subtracting, by cutting through units and stitching them, and by strengthening the dialogue between the old and new. They free structures, open up spaces, expose complexity, and create access to what was inaccessible.


Rani Kamel

Project: Permeable Field of Education, Bourj Hammoud, Beirut, Lebanon

American University of Beirut

Instructor: George Arbid

The site for this project is located in Beirut, within the dense Bourj Hammoud district. It focuses on the typology of the school and its relation with the surrounding environment. It aims at developing schools in a manner that is sustainable, multifunctional, and that integrates them within their surrounding community. It explores the impact of such buildings on communities, and presents different communal uses for school buildings that allow them to remain open at the end of the school day and at certain times of the year.

The project creates an area with cultural and recreational facilities that serves the needs of the community. The project also develops considerable transparency, porosity, and permeability between the school and the surrounding community. All this translates into a uniquely close bond between the city and the school building.


The projects that received honorable mentions are as follows:


May Algody

Project: {REF}raction-lection, Dubai, UAE

American University of Sharjah

Instructor: George Katodrytis

The project represents a technique, inspired by the X-Ray machine, where light projection determines what is visible and what is not. This architectural experience is achieved by using a single beam of laser light that is directed to the interior of the building and that penetrates it through its openings, making a few specific elements of the building particularly visible to the viewer.

Different experiences also are created by variations in time, employing natural light during the day, and using laser light at night. The project is to be established over a water feature, thus taking advantage of the visual interaction between light and water.


Mona Shaar

Project: Mystic Intertwine, Art, Archaeology and Architecture, Jbeil, Lebanon

American University of Beirut

Instructor: Karim Nader

The Byblos House of Arts is a place for cultural exchange. The project is established on a site of great complexity, connecting ancient Byblos and Jbeil, where one can sense the historical layers of the city and perceive them in various ways.

The House of Arts forms a node connecting the present city with its ancient history. It aims at taking one on a journey of experiencing the richness of the site, not in a conventional sense, but rather in a new way, creating a place that is part of the evolution of the site.


Rafat Tarabichi

Project: Joinery at the Frontier, the borderline between Turkey and Syria

International University of Science and technology

Instructor: Wael Samhouri

The project is located along the border between Turkey and Syria. The land belongs to an Armenian family that is keen to meet new people and that keeps its house open for visitors.

The most important aspect of this site is its magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea, which attracts visitors from both countries.


Saba Al Muhtaseb

Walaa Mazahreh

Yaman Amr

Project: The Living Voids, Amman, Jordan

University of Jordan

Instructor: Wael al Azhari

Amman's architecture is well known for its use of stone. When Amman was a small city, quarries were located away from the urban center, but as the city grew, these quarries became within it. These quarries, along with neglected excavations, are leaving huge voids in the city's fabric. This project concentrates on how these voids may affect the quality of life in Amman, and on exploring the potentials of rehabilitating such sites.