The Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) was established in the summer of 1999, and initiated its first public activities in early 2000. We consequently have completed over three full years of activities relating to exploring the built environment in Jordan and beyond.
a. Diwan al-Mimar:
CSBE has continued organizing its architectural forum, Diwan al-Mimar, which has entered its fourth season. Thirteen Diwan sessions were held in 2002, and they featured speakers from both inside and outside Jordan. The speakers included public officials, practicing architects, and scholars working on issues relating to the built environment.
Diwan al-Mimar has been organized in association with Darat al-Funun – The Khalid Shoman Foundation.
Click here for additional information on Diwan al-Mimar
b. Public Lecture Series:
CSBE organized one lecture during 2002 as part of its public lecture series. The lecture, which took place in April, was by Saleh al-Hathloul, Deputy Minister for Town Planning, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Saudi Arabia, and was entitled "Riyadh Architecture in One Hundred Years." About 110 people attended the lecture. CSBE also had made plans to organize two additional public lectures during 2002, but the concerned lecturers had to cancel at the last moment.
The CSBE lecture series is organized in association with Darat al-Funun – The Khalid Shoman Foundation. Additional support for organizing the public lecture by Saleh al-Hathloul was provided by the Architectural Section of the Jordan Engineers Association.
Click here for additional information on the CSBE public lecture series
c. Web News Section:
CSBE has continued publishing its quarterly web news section, which was initiated at the beginning of 2000, and which aims at providing regular coverage of architectural developments relating to Jordan. During 2002, the CSBE web news section was redesigned to allow for easier browsing and access of information. Also, individual news items have been expanded to include additional textual and visual information. In addition, a Google search section has been added to the CSBE web site, and this has allowed browsers of the site to more readily access data in the CSBE web site, including the CSBE news section.
CSBE initiated publishing the news section relying on its own resources and on the efforts of a small group of volunteers. However, in 2002, CSBE received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts that has provided support for publishing the CSBE new section for a period of one year.
d. Documentation of Lectures, Presentations, and Studies:
CSBE has documented on its web site two of the Diwan presentations it organized on its web site. The downloadable documentation for each presentation includes a substantial essay that deals with the contents of the presentation as well as the questions and answers that follow it. Also included are bibliographic references, images, and hyperlinks to related sites. In addition to the two Diwan presentations, CSBE documented on its web site a study that deals with the design and development of a children’s play environments in Sahab, an industrial suburb of Amman.
Support for the CSBE e-documentation is being provided by a grant from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. Additional support has been provided by Darat al-Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation.
Click here to view the CSBE E-publications & resources
e. Exploring the Edge:
CSBE has initiated a new section of its web site, Exploring the Edge, which presents 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. The first issue of Exploring the Edge, which is being published on an annual basis, featured a work and consultation space for a psychologist by award-winning Jordanian architect Sahel al-Hiyari.
Support for Exploring the Edge is being provided by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Click here for additional information on Exploring the Edge
f. Internet Workshop:
CSBE, in association with Syntax Digital, organized in September 2002 a public interactive workshop entitled “The Internet and Architectural and Engineering Practices: From Web Sites to E-business.” The workshop explored issues relating to the potential of the Internet and the web as an identification, marketing, administration, and communication tool for architectural and engineering practices. The workshop included 12 contact hours divided over a period of three days.
g. Water Conserving Landscapes:
CSBE has continued work on its water conserving landscapes project during 2002. The project aims at researching and disseminating information on the principles and practices involved in the creation of water conserving landscapes. The project consists of a number of components. These include organizing workshops, two of which took place in January 2002. The project also has published posters and brochures on water conserving landscapes, both of which were completed early in 2002. In addition, CSBE has devoted a substantial section of its web site to the subject of water conserving landscapes, and the section was officially inaugurated in May 2002. This web section includes illustrated and annotated plant lists, essays, a directory of suppliers of products and services, and an extensive list of printed and web-based references. CSBE also has begun working on the development of a design for the transformation of the National Gallery Park in Jabal Luweibdeh into a model water conserving demonstration garden. The project is being carried out through close cooperation with the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. Other accomplishments of the water conserving landscapes project have included the preparation of a manual on water conserving gardens, which will be published in both English and Arabic. CSBE also has contributed a series of biweekly articles on water conserving gardens to the Weekender edition of the English language daily the Jordan Times, and CSBE staff have delivered a number of public lectures on the subject.
The CSBE water conserving landscapes project is being extended until the fall of 2004. The extension will allow CSBE to continue a number of the project’s ongoing activities, and to initiate new ones.
In this context, it should be added that a few organizations have contacted CSBE to benefit from its expertise in the subject of water conserving landscapes. In fact, CSBE has agreed with the Jordan offices of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Habitat for Humanity to work with them on developing sustainable water conserving landscaping plans in the town of Adasiyya in the northern Jordan Valley. Specifically, CSBE will work with the two organizations and in coordination with local organizations on developing landscaping schemes for the local community center and the girls’ school in Adasiyya. The first component of the project, which is planting the grounds of the local community center, is scheduled to take place in January 2003.
This CSBE water conserving landscapes project is being 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 and technical assistance for the project are provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Click here for additional information on the CSBE water conserving landscapes project
h. Graywater Reuse:
CSBE has initiated the implementation of a project that aims at investigating, implementing, and promoting graywater reuse at the small and medium scales in the domestic and service sector context. The project will examine existing applications of graywater reuse in other countries, and evaluate their technical, social, and economic feasibility. Also, it will investigate the social, economic, climatic, and other environmental factors that may have a bearing on the implementation of graywater reuse systems in Jordan, and will develop, in conjunction with Jordanian professionals, graywater solutions suited to the particular context of Jordan. The results will allow CSBE to provide technical advice that would support the implementation of a number of graywater reuse systems and schemes in both urban and rural areas in Jordan. The project also will include the dissemination of practical information on graywater reuse to developers, construction professionals, and the interested public through workshops, printed materials, and through the CSBE web site.
The CSBE graywater reuse project is being carried out in cooperation with the University of Arizona at Tucson.
Support for the CSBE graywater reuse project is provided by a grant from the Enhanced Productivity Program at the Jordanian Ministry of Planning. CSBE also has received a grant from the British Embassy Small Grants Scheme to allow it to further extend the life span of the project by an additional six months.
Click here for additional information on the CSBE graywater reuse project
CSBE has received considerable press coverage during 2002. The CSBE water conserving landscapes project was featured in a number of publications including Royal Wings, the in-flight magazine of Jordan’s national carrier, Royal Jordanian. Royal Wings published two articles, one in Arabic and the other in English, devoted to the CSBE water conserving landscapes project. Also, Architecture +, a new Dubai-based architecture magazine that provides coverage of architecture in the developing world, featured an article on the CSBE water conserving landscapes project, and also reprinted a shorter version of the first CSBE issue of Exploring the Edge relating to Sahel al-Hiyari’s work. Also, the first issue of Exploring the Edge was featured by two international architectural web sites, ArchNewsNow and Arcspace. Sahel al-Hiyari was the first architect to receive the prestigious Rolex Award, and Exploring the Edge was the first publication to present al-Hiyari’s work. CSBE also contributed 14 articles on water conserving gardens that were published in the Weekender edition of the Jordan Times on a biweekly basis.
a. Continuation of Existing Activities:
During 2003, CSBE will proceed with and further develop a number of its ongoing activities. These include Diwan al-Mimar, the public lecture series, the CSBE architectural news, the CSBE lectures and presentations documentation program, and Exploring the Edge. CSBE also will continue work on its two specialized projects, the water conserving landscapes and the graywater reuse projects.
b. New projects:
b.1. Book Corner:
The CSBE 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 will be listed in the CSBE web site, and can be purchased by the public through a vendor with which CSBE has made special arrangements or through mail orders. Preparations for the CSBE Book Corner have included identifying the publications and purchasing them, developing a database that includes considerable information on the publications, and uploading the information included in the database to the CSBE web site. The preparations for the Book Corner were completed in late 2002, and it will be announced in January 2003.
b.2. Press Room:
CSBE has been receiving a good amount of press coverage and also has been making contributions to various publications. The CSBE Press Room will be a section of the CSBE web site that is devoted to documenting this interaction between CSBE and the press. The Press Room is expected to be completed during the early part of 2003.
b.3. The Architectural Laboratory:
The Architectural Laboratory is an eight-week design studio that will provide a group of fifteen architecture students and newly-graduating architects with an atelier-like environment that allows them to develop their design skills through a process of intense interaction with each other and with a group of accomplished architects from inside and outside Jordan. The architects from outside Jordan represent countries including Cyprus, The Netherlands, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. The event will be divided into eight one-week design modules, with a different architect leading each module. The event is scheduled for the summer of 2003.
The architectural Laboratory will be organized in association with the Jordan National Gallery for Fine Arts, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Darat al-Funun – The Khalid Shoman Foundation, the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Amman.
b.4. Solar Energy:
CSBE engaged a researcher who worked in association with CSBE staff members and a CSBE advisor to investigate the technical and economic potentials and challenges of developing the use of photovoltaic solar cells in Jordan. The sun is playing an increasing role in providing our buildings with energy. Considering the advances being achieved in technologies relating to solar energy and the anticipated increase in oil prices in Jordan, this is a most suitable time to initiate an investigation of this subject. The project was funded through CSBE funds with support provided by the Jordan office of Habitat for Humanity. The results of the research project will be published in the form of a report on the CSBE web site. CSBE also will work on seeking funds to further investigate and help implement projects concerning the use of photovoltaic cells.
CSBE still is exploring methods that would enable it to realize a number of its projects that remain in the planning phase. Of special importance is the project that aims at developing an extensive online database on products for the construction industry in Jordan. It is envisioned that such a database would facilitate the exchange of information between the providers and consumers of products relating to the construction industry in the country, and would greatly contribute to increasing the efficiency of this important segment of the Jordanian economy.
The CSBE web site is linked to a significant number of international web sites. These include the following:
ArchNet (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture)
MENALIB (State and University Library Saxony-Anhalt in Halle (Germany))
Water CASA (Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona)
In 2002, CSBE staff has increased to include three full-time staff members, the CBSE director, a research and coordination officer for each of the water conserving landscapes project and the graywater reuse project. Part-time staff members also have increased to three members. These include the CSBE financial officer, and the technical managers of the water conserving landscapes project and the graywater reuse project. CSBE also has engaged two consultants on a long-term basis. One is the CSBE documentation program manager and web site administrator, and the second is a researcher for the graywater reuse project. The CSBE staff members include two Ph.D. degree holders, three master’s degree holders, and two bachelor’s degree holders. In addition, CSBE hired a number of consultants on a short-term basis.
Also, during 2002, one of the CSBE staff members received a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a master’s degree in architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
A major challenge that CSBE faces is that of achieving financial sustainability for its various projects. CSBE still relies on its limited resources to subsidize a number of its activities. CSBE has initiated serious efforts aimed at exploring methods of establishing a financially sound and sustainable base for its various projects, and this has involved a review of CSBE's project and an assessment of their financial sustainability.
In fact, CSBE has engaged in various fund raising activities, and consequently has received new grants from bodies including the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Enhanced Productivity Program at the Jordanian Ministry of Planning, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
CSBE also has explored seeking other sources of income. This includes requesting individual donations through a "Friends of CSBE" program, as well as establishing potentially income-generating activities such as the CSBE Book Corner and the Internet workshop. In addition, the members of Diwan al-Mimar have begun paying a Diwan contribution beginning from this season of Diwan al-Mimar to cover the expenses associated with this activity.
Also, some organizations have begun to seek consulting services from CSBE on a paid basis. For example, the Mennonite Central Committee and Habitat for Humanity will be reimbursing CSBE for the work it will be performing for the Adasiyya landscaping schemes. CSBE plans to identify other consulting projects of this nature to provide a source of additional income for the center. However, CSBE will be careful and selective in accepting such projects since it does not wish to take on the position of a competitor to the professionals working in the fields that CSBE addresses. In fact, CSBE aims at presenting itself as a source of support and expertise for such professionals. Consequently, CSBE will concentrate on unique projects that are experimental in nature and that have a developmental component to them.
CSBE has been able to carry out its various activities for 2002 on the limited budget of 45,000 JD (about 63,400 USD). This amount does not include in-kind support, or disbursements that donors have paid directly to participants in CSBE projects or activities. Such participants have included lecturers, experts, and graphic designers.
c. Grants and Donations:
Major sources of funding for CSBE during 2002 consisted of the grants from WEPIA for the CSBE water conserving landscapes project and from the Ministry of Planning for the graywater reuse project. CSBE also has received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts that provides support for the CSBE web news issue and Exploring the Edge. In addition, CSBE continues to work on its e-documentation project through support from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. Darat al-Funun (which now is a part of the newly established Khalid Shoman Foundation) and CSBE continue to work together closely in terms of co-organizing a number of activities such as Diwan al-Mimar and the public lecture series. The Jordan office of Habitat for Humanity has partly covered some of the costs of the study carried out by CSBE on photovoltaic cells. Obeidat and Freihat Attorneys & Counselors at Law have provided legal counseling on a pro bono basis. Also a number of individuals and institutions have made donations to CSBE through the newly established Friends of CSBE. 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 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. CSBE is truly grateful for the generous support that these institutions and individuals have provided.
Finally, a special thanks is due to the CSBE staff members and members of the board of directors for all the efforts they have made in making 2002 a successful year.