Written by: Sandra Hiari www.tareeq.me
Architecture in Jordan has yet a long way ahead to establish a distinct identity. Generally responsive to international trends, the scant works of 'good' architecture we have are trying to create a native feel in our growing capital. Some make it, others don’t. The list below is for those who at least are taking our local architecture somewhere better.
1 Children’s Museum
Location: King Hussein Park – King AbduAllah II Road
Architect: Faris and Faris Architects
Photo by: Faris and Faris Architects
This building has what many buildings in the city don’t: lots of color. Looking as a toy in itself, the museum is home to numerous activities for children that educate through play. Skewed columns, corrugated steel sheets, and unfinished concrete are a few of the many architectural elements and materials that make this building stand out.
2 S House
Architect: Sahel Al Hiyari & Partners
Long courses of white stone interrupted by bold excavations of space (like in the entrance and 2nd floor terrace) identify this building. At some moments, embedded gray stone courses shyly try to tuck inside. This residence’s interior has more in store on the inside, with a vast reception space overlooking a reflective pool flooded with daylight from the hidden skylight above. Located near the American Embassy, taking photos may be a hassle. Seeing the house from the inside is one thing we are not sure is allowed for visitors.
3 Blue Fig
Architect: Khalid Nahhas of Symbiosis
Photo by ebn_b6o6a
The fig maybe blue, the building however is light brown. Coming with vocabulary new at the time of its construction to Amman, the lively ambiance of this (mostly) night spot speaks of how much people enjoy its architecture. This restaurant and bar houses asymmetrical indoor and outdoor spaces that guarantee that no seat you get in there has a monotonous view.
4 Wild Jordan
Location: First Circle Area
Architect: Ammar Khammash Architects
Photo from: www.wanderluster.net
The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature takes this building as its headquarters for its eco-tourism operations. Rising on columns seen from the Balad or the opposite Luweibdeh hill, the building tries to leave a minimal footprint on the land it sits atop. Stunning views to the core of Amman can be seen from any of its terraces and café.
5 Amman Electricity Hangar
Location: Ras Al Ain
Architect: TURATH Architecture &Urban Design Consultants
Photo by: TURATH Architecture & Urban Design Consultants
This building has been recently rehabilitated by the Greater Amman Municipality as a new cultural spot. It once used to house electric generators for the city. Not anymore! Art exhibitions, lectures, and food markets have a new home. The interior, although simple, is breath-taking. The main hall with its vault-like shape is reminiscent of the Turbine Hall in London’s TATE. Be sure to check Gallery Ras Al Ain (the building next door) while you are there. The brick-perforated façade infused with glass cannot be missed.
6 Netherlands Embassy
Location: Deir Ghbar
Architect: Rudy Uytenhaak & Consolidated Consultants (cc)
Photo courtesy of the Embassy
Proudly boasting Amman’s (– and practically Jordan’s) first building awarded the silver LEED medal, the Dutch embassy has moved stretches ahead to ensure that it is eco-friendly. The building is also the first Dutch embassy worldwide to receive this energy and environmental designation. Let not the jungle of solar panels scare you, it’s putting what Amman has most in best use: solar energy. Guided tours of the building are available based on appointment, so you need to plan the visit ahead.
7 Gallery 27 & Yaghmour Office
Location: Jabal Al Luweibdeh
Architect: Yaghmour Architects
Resting on a quiet street in an old neighborhood, this building houses the offices of Yaghmour architects. Long established, this office recently moved into the neighborhood after renovating an old house. The offices house the architect’s own gallery space. The rusty copper bar at the fence is the only sign you have of the tenants. Well, that and the striking stair!
8 Rawda Housing
Location: Dahiyat Al Rasheed
Architect: Rasem Badran
(Picture not available)
One of the housing projects by a Jordanian leading architect, the (now aged) Rawda housing complex features stacks of white houses arranged around a community core with day-to-day services for residents of the area. The buildings in this northern part of the city mimic those stacked on the hills in its center. The community is open to guests.
9 Jordan Gate Twin Towers
Location: Um Uthaina – off 6th Circle
Architect: Jafar Tukan Architects of Consolidated Consultants (cc)
Photo by: Sandra Hiari
Perhaps the most controversial piece of architecture in modern day Amman, you have got to either love or hate these two towers. Metaphorically described like crystals that dissolve in the sky, Amman’s first skyscrapers (and currently, the only ones) soar high in the city’s skyline and nest in a quiet neighborhood. Still stuck in never-ending construction works, the towers are not yet open for visitors (although paying an exclusive tour to the rooftop maybe an option that you have to take at your own risk after getting needed permission).
10 Mushahwar House
Architect: Hani Imam Hussaini
Photo from Contemporary Architecture in Jordan group on Facebook
Although private residences in the city are in a continuous battle to impress and swell in size, this one steps aside. Lying in the affluent neighborhood of Abdoun, the house amicably sits on the street while only one rising floor from that vantage point. The narrow stone courses on the façade are interrupted by slick rectangle cut-outs for openings or a brise soleil extrusion. Chances of getting a sneak peak inside is not guaranteed, but the view from the outside is sure worth it.