CSBE was established in the summer of 1999, and initiated its first public activities in early 2000. We consequently have completed over six full years of working on exploring the built environment in Jordan and beyond.
CSBE has continued organizing its architectural forum, Diwan al-Mimar, which has completed its sixth season. Seven speakers made presentations to the Diwan in 2005. 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. The 2005 Diwan speakers were Shiraz Allibhai, Rami Daher, Sinan Hassan, Babar Mumtaz, Rula Sadik, Doris Summers, and Mohammad Yaghan.
Diwan al-Mimar has been organized in association with Darat al-Funun / The Khalid Shoman Foundation.
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 2004 were published during 2005. CSBE fully funded the publication of the 2004 news issue through its own resources.
CSBE organized Architectural Laboratory II during the summer of 2005, which was entitled "Amman: Collision in the Urban Fabric." This three-week urban design studio explored one of Amman's main traffic intersections. Architectural Laboratory II provides considerable continuity with CSBE's 2003 Architectural Laboratory I, but with an emphasis on an urban theme rather than on a purely architectural one. Architectural Laboratory II was led by Jordanian architects Sahel Al Hiyari and Yasir Sakr, and also Kristopher Musumano from the United States, who joined the studio for its third week. CSBE has documented the process and results of Architectural Laboratory II on its web site.
Architectural Laboratory II was held in association with the Royal Society of Fine Arts / The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. Support for Architectural Laboratory II was provided by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and Darat al-Funun / The Khalid Shoman Foundation.
Water Conserving Landscapes
In 2005, CSBE concluded its WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action) - supported water conserving landscapes project. The project activities during 2004 concentrated on completion of the rehabilitation of the National Gallery Park in the Jabal al-Luweibdeh district of Amman as a model water-conserving park. The 8,000 square-meter park, which was constructed about half a century ago, is one of Amman's older public spaces. CSBE designed the park, participated in fund-raising activities for it, and heavily participated in the construction management of its rehabilitation. The park was inaugurated by Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania in May 2005.
In addition, CSBE published on its web site an essay entitled "Saline Soils: A Landscaping Challenge" by German landscape architect Jochen Wiede. The costs of publishing the essay were fully covered by CSBE.
This CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project was 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 was provided by WEPIA, 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 provided considerable support for the implementation of the National Gallery Park.
CSBE published the final report for 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 examined existing applications of graywater reuse in other countries, and evaluated their technical, social, and economic feasibility. It also investigated the social, economic, climatic, and other environmental factors that may have a bearing on the implementation of graywater reuse systems in Jordan, and developed, in conjunction with Jordanian professionals, graywater solutions suited to the particular context of Jordan. This 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 was 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.
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 was provided by a grant from the British Embassy Small Grants Scheme 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 45 titles, many of which are not available in bookstores and are 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, developed into regulations, and published in the Jordanian Official Gazette.
Zoning Study for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA)
CSBE carried out a study for ASEZA, in association with the Jordanian consulting firm EcoConsult, that dealt with developing zoning solutions addressing the spread of unlicensed shops and violations of setback regulations in certain areas of Aqaba. The study aimed at assessing existing conditions and developing solutions in a manner that takes into consideration the interests of the various involved stakeholders. The project involved carrying out research regarding different zoning approaches, designing and implementing surveys of the areas in question, meeting with inhabitants of the area, and developing possible zoning solutions.
In addition to the publications on the web site mentioned above (documentation of Architectural Laboratory II, article on saline soils, article on the National Gallery Park, and the CSBE 2004 news), CSBE published on its web site two essays. The first is entitled "Legislation and Built Environment in the Arab-Muslim City" and deals with a presentation that was made to Diwan al-Mimar by Saleh al-Hathloul, the Saudi Arabian educator and critic in the field of architecture and urban planning, who also had served as Deputy Minister for Town Planning at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. The second essay is entitled "Half a Century in the Study of Islamic Art" and deals with a presentation that was made to Diwan al-Mimar by Oleg Grabar, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, whom many consider the most influential historian of Islamic art and architecture of our day.
The publication of both essays was partially supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development.
In addition, CSBE has re-published all articles of Urban Crossroads. These articles are part of a regular column that CSBE director Mohammad al-Asad has been writing for the English Daily The Jordan Times since the Spring of 2004. The column addresses issues relating to the urban built environment, with an emphasis on Amman as well as other urban centers in Jordan. The column aims at exploring the various physical, cultural, social, economic, and political dynamics that shape our cities, and how these various dynamics may be harnessed to improve the quality of urban life. Since The Jordan Times does not maintain an archive for its web publication, the articles have been placed on the CSBE web site. Over 55 Urban Crossroads articles are available on the CSBE web site.
Publication of Sahel Al Hiyari Architecture
CSBE published during 2005 the English language monograph, Sahel Al Hiyari Architecture. The monograph, which deals with the work of the award-winning Jordanian architect Sahel Al Hiyari, is authored by Mohammad al-Asad and Sahel Al Hiyari, with an introduction by Portuguese Pritzker Prize-winning architect Alvaro Siza.
CSBE cooperated 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 the Cities Feeding People Initiative of the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC). The project included 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 provided logistical support for organizing workshops relating to the subject of Urban Agriculture that took place in Amman during 2005.
CSBE Urban Unit
Considering the various challenges that face urban development in Jordan, CSBE has decided to develop a consortium that brings together a group of high-quality Jordanian experts in urban planning to address projects in this field. The unit builds on previous activity regarding urbanism that CSBE has carried out, as with the studies implemented for ASEZA. The detailed report on the expert meeting on housing needs in Iraq that was organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Program was the first activity of the CSBE Urban Unit.
Partnership with the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC)
CSBE and ADC have initiated a partnership according to which CSBE would provide support for ADC's urban planning activities. CSBE already has started work on a labor market housing needs projection study for ADC. CSBE also is helping organize the process of identifying and commissioning a planning firm to design a labor housing village in Aqaba, as well as following up on the design process.
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, construction of the project was delayed and it was not completed until late 2005. CSBE plans to publish the upcoming issue of Exploring the Edge in 2006.
Support for Exploring the Edge is provided by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago.
Study for Identifying and Developing Priority Industrial Areas in Jordan
CSBE is participating in preparing a study commissioned by EJADA (Euro-Jordanian Action for the Development of the Enterprise) for the Jordan Agency for Enterprise and Investment Development (JAED). The outcome of this study will be a detailed and comprehensive industrial map of Jordan, which will support the design of investment strategies for the industrial sector in the country.
Guidelines for Children's Parks and Play Environments
The Greater Amman Municipality commissioned Lara Zureikat, the manager of the CSBE Water Conserving Landscapes project, to develop guidelines for the development of children's parks and play areas in Amman. Lara is carrying out the study in association with CSBE staff members. The guidelines will address issues including safety as well as fostering the child's physical, social, intellectual, and emotional growth.
Compiling and Editing Proceedings for the Architectural Journalism and Criticism Seminar
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture organized a conference in December 2005 in association with the Kuwait Society of Engineers entitled "Architectural Journalism and Criticism." The Aga Khan Award has commissioned CSBE to compile and edit the proceedings of the conference.
Organizing a Graywater Expert Meeting
The Canadian International Development and Research Center (IDRC) has approached CSBE to organize an expert meeting on graywater in Amman, and also to participate in documenting the outcomes of the meeting. The meeting, which is scheduled for the Fall of 2006, will bring together about twenty experts on graywater from both inside and outside Jordan, and will address both technical and policy issues regarding graywater reuse.
Co-publishing a Monograph of Essays on Diwan al-Mimar Presentations and CSBE Public Lectures
CSBE is cooperating with Darat al-Funun / The Khalid Shoman Foundation on publishing a monograph that will feature the twelve essays that CSBE has published on its web site documenting Diwan al-Mimar sessions and public lectures that CSBE had co-sponsored. CSBE will cover all editing costs for the monograph through its own resources, and Darat al-Funun will cover the design and printing costs. The monograph is expected to come out during the summer of 2006. This will be CSBE's third monograph publication. The first was the 2004 Arabic-language Water-Conserving Gardens: A User's Manual, and the second was the 2005 English-language Sahel Al Hiyari Architecture.
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 100 countries. Their numbers during 2005 have ranged between approximately 1,000 and 2,180 per month.
The CSBE web site may be accessed through 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.
The makeup of the CSBE staff during 2005 underwent considerable changes. During the summer of 2005, CSBE's two documentation and research officers moved on to other activities. Deema Aburizik relocated to Dubai where she currently is working with an architecture and engineering consulting firm there. Dalia al-Husseini started her master's degree in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a Fulbright scholarship. Dalia is the second CSBE staff member to receive a Fulbright scholarship. The first recipient was Hania Maraqa, who obtained her master's degree in architecture from the University of Arizona in Tucson on a Fulbright scholarship. Hania currently is completing a master's degree in urban planning at MIT, and plans to rejoin CSBE when returning to Jordan in the summer of 2006. In addition, Majd Musa, CSBE's Documentation Program Manager, also has received a Fulbright scholarship to carry out her PhD studies. She currently is applying for universities in the United States, and is expected to begin her PhD studies in the Fall of 2006. Also, CSBE director, Mohammad al-Asad, spent the Spring 2005 semester as a visiting associate professor at the Department of Architecture at MIT.
Basma Abdallah, an architect who graduated from the University of Jordan in the summer of 2005, joined CSBE in July 2005 as its new research and development officer.
CSBE had to rely on extremely limited financial resources during 2005. The CSBE landscaping project that was the main source of income for CSBE over the past few years came to an end by the beginning of 2005, and it was not until late 2005 that CSBE was able to secure new projects on which to work. CSBE also still relies on its limited resources to subsidize a number of its activities, as with the CSBE Book Corner, the CSBE news issues, most of CSBE's other e-publications, and editing the Sahel Al Hiyari Projects monograph. However, since CSBE has obtained a number of important projects for 2006, it is hoped that our expenses will be adequately covered during the upcoming period.
CSBE has been able to carry out its various activities for 2005 on the unusually small budget of about 37,000 JD (about 52,000 USD). The amount is extraordinarily small in comparison to the amount of work that CSBE accomplished. It should be noted that the CSBE budget does not include in-kind support, a high level of unpaid work provided 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.
Grants and Donations
Major sources of funding for CSBE during 2005 consisted of the CSBE studies for ASEZA regarding building and zoning regulations, as well as a number of other smaller projects including participation in the IDRC-funded Urban Agriculture project and the report on housing needs in Iraq carried out by the Urban Unit for the United Nations Human Settlements Program. Another source of income has been the profits that CSBE has realized on its stock investments in the Amman Stock Exchange, which has experienced a year of considerable growth. CSBE's investment in the Amman stock exchange consisted of the 10,000 JD (14,000 USD) donation that Ms. Huda Jardaneh - al-Asad most generously gave to CSBE in 2004.
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 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 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 2005 a successful year for CSBE.