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‘Understanding Jabal Amman’s history crucial to preserving its heritage’

By Sawsan Tabazah - May 09,2018 - Last updated at May 09,2018

AMMAN — The subtle and dynamic architectural style of Jabal Amman neighbourhhod has shaped its vibrant heritage which functions as the heart of the “cosmopolitan” city of Amman, an expert has recently said.

Speaking on Monday at a lecture on the architectural identity of Jabal Amman, as part of the 5th Jabal Amman Cultural Week organised by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, Rami Daher, associate professor and consultant in architecture and urban design, said that the diversity of “Ammanies” is one of the main traits of the city, which has been home to people from different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds since the establishment of the Kingdom in 1921.

Daher reviewed the architectural models that have featured Jabal Amman’s buildings throughout the 20th century.

Until the 1950s, houses and old foreign embassies in the “quaint” neighbourhood were built using the “Third Bay” architectural model, featured mainly with the arching windows. After the 1950s, the horizontal structure was adopted in houses and dwellings design, Daher explained. 

He explained that the first commercial and public institutions featured the modern public model, represented by major buildings in the 2nd circle area like the Islamic Scientific College. 

In the last couple of decades of the 20th century, the curtain wall structure or the international style emerged in the neighbourhood, Daher said at the lecture, titled “Jabal Amman: the city’s cosmopolitan neighbourhood and forgotten modernity”.

“The heritage of Jabal Amman evolved from its buildings that are characterised with their subtle and dynamic architectural styles,” he said.

However, Daher warned that the renovation of old buildings without understanding the history of Jabal Amman might ruin the heritage of the place. 

“Developments must be contemporary not copying old architectural models.”

He cited the example of the rehabilitation project of Rainbow Street which he participated in.

 “The project sought to cause minimal and complementary interventions for places. We wanted to celebrate the mixed urbanity of the street. In Rainbow Street you can see a public school next to a coffee shop and a falafel restaurant next to a desserts shop; we did not want to change that,” Daher said. 

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