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Royal Tank Museum: War beasts tell history in futuristic construction

By Roufan Nahhas - Mar 11,2018 - Last updated at Mar 11,2018

AMMAN — Dee Hock, an American businessman, once said: “Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it,” which is the motto one Jordanian architect just followed.

Zaid Daoud, the architect behind the Royal Tank Museum, mixed authenticity with modern day designs to create a unique construction that resembles the shape of a tank.

One of the many Jordanians involved in the accomplishment of this new cultural addition to the Kingdom, Daoud has a talent he is eager to share with the world. 

“We are proud of our heritage and we are inspired by it, but we have to always improve and evolve… Jordanians have talents in all fields, and what we need is the inspiration to keep developing. The museum is inspired by the Arabic and Islamic sand castles but with a contemporary interpretation to it, which is a reflection of Jordan today; we have many new contemporary projects done by Jordanian talents,” Daoud told The Jordan Times.

“From the idea of the museum, in line with the directions of His Majesty King Abdullah, to the design, which included the building design, the masterplan, the set design, dioramas, multimedia design and the graphic work, as well as the contractors and the individuals who took part in this magnificent project, all are Jordanians; a fact that makes us proud,” he added.

The design of the project, which was received with public admiration, is expected to compete for international awards, according to Daoud.

“We intend to submit this design to more than 20 international competitions, for example the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects, among others, and we hope we will win,” he said.

The Royal Institute of British Architects International Prize is awarded to the most transformative building which demonstrates visionary, innovative thinking, excellence of execution and makes a distinct contribution to its users and physical context, according to their website. 

The architectural design of the Royal Tank Museum, which was inaugurated by King Abdullah on January 29 this year, is reflective of subtle metaphors in a modern and visually stimulating building.

“The museum is a futuristic sand castle that borrows from the language of stealth. The physical forms of the exhibit structures are angular and trapezoidal, echoing the Museum’s architecture and themes by creating interconnecting spatial volumes that enhance the historical messages,” Daoud said. 

“As tanks are considered mobile fortresses, the desert fortress look was adopted for this 20,000 square metre monument since Jordan is famous for its desert castles,” he added.

The museum aims to introduce chronological events that shaped the Hashemite Kingdom’s history, review the development of Jordan’s military from the Arab Revolt to the modern day armed forces, in addition to the world’s great wars. It also dedicates a large space to the Kingdom’s contribution to the evolution of tanks.

“There are many tanks that were developed and modified here in Jordan, and this can be seen at the museum, in addition to major events that were part of the history of the Kingdom such as the Battle of Karameh,” Daoud noted. 

The belly of the monument is designed to capture the essence of everything related to tanks and wars, and, as visitors walk beside the gigantic beasts of World War I and World War II, they cannot help but appreciate the great minds behind the technology of these mobile fortresses which have kept their inhabitants safe despite their small inside space.

“We designed the interior based on the vision that everything should look clear and majestic from where you stand, with easy access to the 13 halls placed in chronological order for a dramatic impact and significance,” the architect said.

“It is definitely a piece of art done by Jordanian hands for all Jordanians to be proud of,” he concluded.

The museum is located next to the King Abdullah II Park in Al Mugableen.

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