The Greater Amman Environmental Street urban landscaping project was inaugurated. The project is located at the Jubayha - Yajuz and the Jubayha - Abu Nusayr intersections of Jordan Street. The project incorporates drought-tolerant plants that are irrigated by reclaimed water from the Abu Nusayr Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 4.5 million JD (6.9 million $US) project was implemented by the Greater Amman Municipality, the Water Authority of Jordan, and the Ministry of Environment through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)- funded Reuse for Industry, Agriculture and Landscaping (RIAL) project. The three-year RIAL project seeks to promote safe and practical use of treated wastewater for agricultural and industrial purposes through reuse demonstration activities, training, and institutional support. Implementation of the project commenced in January 2005. By the end of April, more than 85,000 trees and plants, representing 36 species, were planted at the 7.5-hectare site. Installation of the irrigation system, which includes over 50 Kilometers of irrigation pipes, also was completed in April. Special purple-colored pipes have been used to indicate that the irrigation system contains reclaimed water. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 13, 2005)
The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts renovation and expansion project was inaugurated. The project includes the existing gallery building, the new gallery building, and the renovated park located in between the two buildings. The existing gallery building includes exhibition halls, storage spaces, and a new souvenir shop. The new gallery building is twice as large and includes exhibition halls and showrooms, a lecture and conference hall, a library, and a print studio. Connecting these two buildings is the National Gallery Park, which was renovated in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Greater Amman Municipality, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, and by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action program (WEPIA). The park, which is designed by the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) as part of its Water Conserving Landscapes project, is intended as a model water-conserving park. The park includes pre-existing and newly-planted drought-tolerant plants. It features signs and displays about water conserving landscapes, an open-air theatre for cultural and musical events, and a Japanese garden donated by the Japanese Embassy in Amman as well as an Andalusian fountain donated by the Government of Granada, Spain. Adjacent to the park is a coffee shop and restaurant that is intended to be part of the cultural and artistic atmosphere of the complex. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 14, 2005)
Initiation of Projects:
Construction work started on the Andalusia Residential Complex along Airport Road in Amman. The project, which is expected to cost 150 million JD (around 211 million $US), is owned by the investment unit of the Social Security Corporation and a number of Jordanian and Arab investors. It consists of 620 villas of several designs ranging in area from 320 to 620 square meters. The residential built area constitutes only 17% of the total area of the project, with the remaining area consisting of 50,000 square meters of open spaces, as well as a social, health, and cultural center of 60,000 square meters. The project also includes swimming pools, tennis courts, squash courts, volley ball courts, a gym, and a mall. The compound will be surrounded by a wall, and provided with 24-hour security staff. (Source: al-Ra'i and The Jordan Times, May 4, 2005)
As part of ongoing efforts aimed at greening the capital's streets, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) began planting around 1,000 Washingtonia Palm trees along some of the city's major thoroughfares. Palm trees that are approximately six meters tall are being planted along medians of streets stretching from the Sweileh Roundabout on Queen Rania Street all the way to the municipality's headquarters in the Ras al-'Ayn area. Palm trees also are being planted along al-Batha Street in the Northern Hashimi area, which serves the newly-established Prince Hamzah Hospital. GAM plans to carry out similar planting programs along 16 other streets in capital, for which a total of 10,000 - 15,000 palm trees would be planted. The palms are locally grown, mainly in the Jordan Valley, and have been bought by the municipality at the cost of 30 JD (42 $US) per meter of height, which amounts to 180 JD (around 250 $US) for a six-meter-tall tree. The variety of palm used was chosen due to its durability, drought-tolerance, and ability to withstand pollution. In addition, such trees do not require frequent maintenance, and do not obstruct visibility for motorists or pedestrians since their trunks are tall and slim. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 3, 2005)
Construction work started on Istiqlal Mall along Istiqlal Street in Amman. The mall, which is owned by Dolama Commercial Investments, will be 30,000 square meters in area and is expected to cost 12 million JD (17 million $US). It will consist of three stories, and will include 180 retail shops ranging in area from 30 to 1,500 square meters, a 600-car parking space, and a 12-alley bowling hall. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 29, 2005)
Construction work started on the Jordan Gate project, or phase I of the Royal Metropolis project, which will have a total budget of 700 million JD (1 billion $US). The Jordan Gate consists of two 39-storey towers connected by a multistory podium and located on a 2.85 hectare plot. The towers will include offices, conference centers, a hotel operated by Hilton International, shops, entertainment centers, and restaurants. The project is located near the Sixth Circle in Amman and is expected to cost around 213 million JD (300 million $US) for a total built-up area of 220,000 square meters. The project is to be implemented by the Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House in partnership with the Kuwait Investment and Finance Company and the Greater Amman Municipality, which has contributed the land on which the project is located. Al-Hamad Construction and Development Company will be the contractor for the project, and the Consolidated Consultants will be the local architectural-engineering consultant. Phase II of the Royal Metropolis project will consist of a residential and commercial complex in Marj al-Hamam on the Dead Sea highway. The total area of this project will be 470,000 square meters. (Source: al-Ra'i and The Jordan Times, May 30, 2005)
Construction work started on the Children's Museum adjacent to the Royal Automobile Museum in the King Hussein Park. The project, designed by Jordanian and
British firms, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer in 2006. The museum is designed specially for children 14 years old and younger on a two-hectare plot donated by the Greater Amman Municipality. It will include more than 150 exhibits that allow for a multi-sensory exploration and understanding of the arts, sciences, technology, industry, and value of national identity, along with accompanying innovative and educational multimedia resources and programs. The museum also will include a children's library and Information Technology (IT) center, planetarium, café, auditorium, activities center, outdoor theatre, and museum shop. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 10, 2005)
Preliminary designs for the new bus terminal to be constructed in the Tariq area along Jordan Street have been completed. The new bus terminal is intended to replace the one in 'Abdali, which will be incorporated into the 'Abdali development project. The final designs are expected to be ready by the end of May 2005. The 27,000 square-meter terminal will accommodate all 13 existing bus lines connecting Amman to the northern parts of the country. These lines, which include a fleet of 144 big buses, 52 small buses, and 37 service cars, connect Amman to Jarash, Ajlun, Mafraq, Irbid and the Jordan University of Science and Technology, Kufr 'Uwwan, Kafranjah, and the Gaza Refugee Camp. (Source: al-Ra'i, April 27, 2005)
The Consolidated Consultants – Jafar Tukan Architect were commissioned to design a 5,000 square-meter mosque in the Abu Dhabi Central Market in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates for Dar Group.
Jordanian architect Layth Madi shared first place in the student category in the competition for the design of Martyrs' Plaza in Beirut, Lebanon. Layth Madi completed his bachelor's degree in architecture from Cornell University in 2001, and a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University in 2004.
The competition, which was launched by Solidere last June, consisted of two categories: professional and student. Participants from Jordan included the joint venture of TURATH (Heritage Conservation Management and Design Consultants) and Dar al-Omran.
The Jury consisted of Fouad Awada, Samir Khalaf, and Bernard Khoury from Lebanon, Roueida Ayache from France, Donald Bates from Australia, Rodolfo Machado and Joan Busquets from the United States, Chong Chia Goh from Singapore, and Maurizio Marzi from Italy. (Images: joint entry by Turath and Dar al-Omran.)
News from Academia:
Hazem al-Nujeidi of the Applied Science University participated in the 36th Environmental Design Research Association Conference in Vancouver, Canada with a paper entitled Concept Formation.
The Department of Architecture at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) held four lectures as part of its ongoing lecture series. The first was by the Jordanian author Yousef Gharaibeh, entitled The Cultural Social Zone. The second was by Abdul Hakim al-Husban, assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology at Yarmouk University, entitled Foucault's Space, Power and Knowledge. The third was by Rula Sadeq, Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture and Design at the American University of Sharjah, entitled Dubai's Iconic Urbanism: Searching for a Locally Defined Global Soul. The fourth lecture was by the award-winning Jordanian architect Sahel Al Hiyari entitled Projects.
Architect and urban designer Jan Gehl, professor of urban design and the director of the Centre for Public Space Research at the School of Architecture of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and senior partner at the Copenhagen-based Gehl Architects, Urban Quality Consultants, lectured at the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), and also conducted a visual survey of Amman during a three-day visit to the Kingdom. He was invited to Jordan by GAM, in association with Ammar Khammash Architects, for the Design Support for Urban Elements for Amman City project. Gehl also is the author of several books on urbanism. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 12, 2005)
The Jordan Engineers Association held an architectural week in its headquarters in Amman that addressed the theme ofCommercial Centers. The event included a number of presentations that discussed the historical, architectural, social, and economic aspects of the design of commercial centers. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 4, 2005)
According to the Jordan Engineers Association (JEA), although Jordan currently has a ratio of one engineer for every 100 citizens, the growth in the construction sector has resulted in zero unemployment in a number of engineering specialties. This ratio, which is one of the highest in the world, has resulted in an unemployment rate among the 58,000 JEA’s members that reaches 8% in some fields of specialization. However, continuous growth in the booming construction sector has increased job prospects for the association's members to such an extent that engineering firms are having considerable difficulty filling vacant positions. On a related note, figures from the Department of Lands and Survey show that the real estate market grew last year by approximately 37.5% in comparison with 2003. 111,914 transactions were carried out in 2004 for the purchase of apartments, houses, and plots of land. JEA also has cooperated with the Royal Scientific Society in conducting studies to assess market needs so as to steer new generations of graduates towards engineering disciplines that are in high demand. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 6, 2005)
The mayor of Geneva, Pierre Mueller, signed a "Friendship Pact" with the Greater Amman Municipality to pave the way for cooperation between the two cities. The agreement provides for the exchange of expertise in municipal services, urban planning, restoration of architectural heritage, waste disposal, environment protection, and transportation. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 6, 2005)
The Ministry of Education signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank for funding the construction of five schools in Amman and the northeastern Badiya Region for 2.6 million JD (around 3.7 million $US). The ministry currently is constructing 200 new school buildings and renovating old ones with the aim of establishing 1,000 classrooms, 650 computer laboratories, 350 science laboratories, and 200 kindergartens. The European Investment Bank is funding 45 new schools throughout the Kingdom in the amount of 30 million JD (42 million $US). (Source: al-Ra'i, May 17, 2005)
The European Union signed an agreement with the Department of Palestinian Affairs through an Italian non-governmental organization for a 340,000 JD (around 480,000 $US) grant for the rehabilitation of the refugee camp in al-Sukhnah. The project, which includes the renovation of 75 residential units in the camp, is part of a series of European Union - funded projects that have included the rehabilitation of the Madaba Camp in 1999 and the Talibiyyah Camp in 2000. The department currently is implementing rehabilitation projects in the Kingdom's refugee camps for a cost of 1.25 million JD (around 1.76 million $US) through funding from the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 18, 2005)
Saraya Jordan, the Arab Bank, the Social Security Corporation (SSC), and the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) signed a partnership agreement to build a 257 million JD (362 million $US) tourism project in Aqaba. The agreement stipulates the establishment of an artificial lagoon, six five-star hotels, beaches, restaurants, an aquarium, entertainment facilities, a marketplace, a conference center, a health club, and residential areas. The project is planned to be completed by 2009, and will employ more than 3,000 people. It will be developed on a total area of 61 hectares, with a built-up area of 648,000 square meters. 30% of the project is owned by SSC, 10% by the Arab Bank, 10% by ADC, with the remaining part being owned by Saraya Jordan. (Source: al-Ra'i and The Jordan Times, May 21, 2005)
A number of projects financed by Qatari investors are being established in Jordan. The first is a commercial center that will be constructed in Al-Hussein Sports City area, and will consist of hotels, a conference center, and residential apartments for a total cost of 213 million JD (300 million $US). The second project is a resort on the shore of the Dead Sea, which is expected to cost of about 106 million JD (150 million $US). During this month alone, large-scale construction investment projects amounting to 1.06 billion JD (1.5 billion $US) have been announced in Jordan. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 29, 2005)
According to the Department of Land and Survey, the real estate market grew by 60% in 2005, in comparison with 2004. 2 billion JD (2.82 billion $US) worth of real estate transactions were carried out in 2004, and the amount is expected to exceed 3 billion JD (4.2 billion $US) in 2005. Moreover, construction activity is expected to increase by 20%, which will lead to an increase in the demand for cement. These expectations have led investors to consider the establishment of a new cement factory for a cost of 283 million JD (396.2 million $US). Jordan currently produces 3.7 million tons of cement annually, 2.5 to 3 million tons of which are consumed locally. (Source: al-Ra'i, May 29, 2005)
The Jordanian Society for Pedestrian Rights (JSPR) is preparing a pilot project that aims at improving pedestrian conditions. The 78-member society is planning to rehabilitate a 600-meter-long street in the Umm Udhaynah area of Amman to set a prototype for pedestrian-friendly street standards that later would be applied at various locations throughout the Kingdom. Accordingly, JSPR, in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality, will install speed bumps, traffic signs, pedestrian paths, pedestrian crossings, and other traffic safety mechanisms on the model street. The project will be implemented in cooperation with the Jordan Traffic Institute and the Traffic Department, and will be sponsored by private sector companies. (Source: The Jordan Times, May 18, 2005)