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  • Desperately Seeking Amman » CSBE
    of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Desperately Seeking Amman Desperately Seeking Amman Urban Crossroads 61 On my first visit to Amman in 1972 I drove down from the north into the city looking for a place to stay Based on experience elsewhere decided to head to the centre in search of cheap accommodation However a few minutes later I realised that we had in fact already passed through the centre and were now driving south out of the city On more recent visits I have similarly driven through the outskirts without ever encountering the city centre of Amman This fruitless search for the city is not merely the result of the size of the city but its composition All cities have a centre often termed the Central Business District where there is a greater concentration of urban activities Many of the larger cities have developed more than one centre Traditionally the historical core has often been associated with these central functions since it housed the initial set of such activities Over time the original centre could no longer contain any more activities and would be quite a distance from the newer parts of the city leaving room for other centres to develop usually also with a new style or set of activities Often the historic core withers and deteriorates Amman s historic core has undergone a similar process but without a new centre taking its place Until relatively recently many Ammanites born and bred in the city had not only never been to the historic core but had no need or desire to go there Nostalgia nationalism and a search for roots and identity have had a hand in refurbishing its image as has its being re branded as Amman s Downtown This is a useful misnomer in that it lacks most of the attributes of a downtown The bright lights shops sights and attractions However if not there then where can Ammanites go Until the King Hussein Gardens opened there was nowhere to go for entertainment unless you were a member of a club or were able and willing to pay an entrance fee Where could you go without having to pay and just sit and be entertained by the city and the life it generates No wonder many of the youth drive round Amman in the evening in a motorised version of the paseo One of the characteristics nay joys of being in a city is being able to interact with people the opportunity of chance encounters meeting strangers That is what the old souks and streets of Amman did That is what Amman has lost to the car Perhaps the new Downtown in Al Abdali will create a real central place A square a street a street theatre to bring back the drama the enchantment of being in a city In the mean time I have a wish list of a few things missing in Amman without which it won t

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/desperately-seeking-amman/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Urban Planning Moment » CSBE
    Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The Urban Planning Moment The Urban Planning Moment Urban Crossroads 60 Master plan for the urban expansion of Zarqa Until recently urban planning was not a sought after profession in Jordan If a Jordanian architecture student considered specializing in urban planning or urban design as a number of architecture students elsewhere do he or she quickly would have been discouraged from taking that path There were almost no urban planning jobs available in the country Urban planning strategies rarely were developed Whatever activities took place in this regard not only were few and far in between but usually were carried out by foreign consulting firms Therefore while Jordan has managed to produce decent architectural talent the field of urban planning in the country remained extremely week if not non existent The result was a vicious circle characterized by a shortage of high quality planners and a lack of demand for them This state of affairs finally seems to be changing Since the new millennium a series of urban planning initiatives have been taking place in Jordan A good part of those initiatives belong to Aqaba a city that traditionally has fared better than the rest of the country in terms of developing an urban planning tradition and in terms of having a reasonably efficient implementation of the master plans created for it As a result Aqaba not only has a more orderly look and feel than the other cities of the country but also has an infrastructure that for some time has been well prepared for the current robust growth currently taking place there In fact Aqaba s infrastructure probably is capable of accommodating up to three times its current population which is approaching 100 000 inhabitants This is in contrast with the other cities of Jordan where land use patterns are rather chaotic and infrastructure systems seem to be bursting at the seams Currently a series of sub plans are being developed for Aqaba Although a number of master plans have been developed for Aqaba as a whole during the past four decades or so the relevant authorities in the city the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Aqaba Development Corporation currently are developing master plans for specific parts of Aqaba that provide an additional layer of detailed planning guidelines for issues ranging from land use to transportation networks The rationale behind this thinking is to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach as the city is experiencing tremendous growth Therefore if an investor comes forward with a multi million dollar tourism or industrial project the authorities would direct the investor to specific locations for the project rather than having such projects being haphazardly situated in various parts of the city They even would be able to identify areas where housing for those affiliated with the project may be located This is a win win position

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-urban-planning-moment/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Zero Tolerance » CSBE
    Old Aleppo The Landscaping Challenge If You Can t Maintain It Don t Build It Disposable Buildings Buy Now Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Zero Tolerance Zero Tolerance Urban Crossroads 59 Tolerance is a most cherished value Every society must strive to attain it and to protect it once it is attained This especially applies to the mutual acceptance of differences in opinion and differences in lifestyles among various members of a community among different communities and among different societies Defining the borders of tolerance involves defining sets of values and actions that society accepts It also involves defining practices that society rejects Deciding on what to accept and what to reject is not always an easy task and there often will be zones of disagreement However there are ways of thinking and there are actions that inflict unequivocal harm on society collectively or individually Clear cut cases include acts of violence and destruction such as murder assault and vandalism These are actions that no civilized society accepts It is here that tolerance stops and the concept of zero tolerance takes effect Otherwise if a given society for one reason or another in any way tolerates any of these actions they will spread and become common place Enough human beings unfortunately do not necessarily act out of goodwill and concern for their fellow man or woman To ensure that they do they regularly need to be reminded that they will be held accountable for their actions and that if they inflict harm on others they will have to pay a price Consequently many positive behavioral patterns only can be achieved through their codification into laws and regulations What about city living When should the concept of zero tolerance be implemented there The city brings total strangers into very close proximity to each other This proximity means that many of our actions in the city will have a direct impact on the lives of others and that we easily may cause inconvenience and even harm to others Residents of the city ideally need to be as courteous sensitive and civilized with each other as possible Much of what we do in the

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/zero-tolerance/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Demands of the Few and the Rights of the Many » CSBE
    Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The Demands of the Few and the Rights of the Many The Demands of the Few and the Rights of the Many Urban Crossroads 58 A major inefficiency affecting the decision making process in cities everywhere lies in the loudness of the few and the silence of the many The majority of people often are silent and passive about the processes through which such decision making takes place even though the resulting decisions strongly affect the quality of their daily life In contrast interest groups who in many cases represent small minorities of constituents usually are very vocal and aggressive about protecting acquired privileges and also expanding upon them Public decisions consequently often are made in a manner that tends to disregard the public good and acquiesce to the pressures of interest groups This is one reason why it is very important to raise public awareness amongst the residents of the city and to encourage them to take an active role in the debates dialogues and overall processes affecting their daily life as urban citizens Decisions affecting life in the city include issues that range from the regulation of commercial signs to land use zoning In many cases the requirements for enhancing the public interest are very clear but the decisions taken do not necessarily reflect those requirements For example very few would deny that the proliferation of commercial signs in Amman has become an aggravating source of visual pollution in the city However many store owners and advertisers would strongly resist any attempts at developing effective regulations that aim at toning down the commercial signs of Amman and addressing the excessive visual pollution they are causing Shop owners would argue that they put considerable resources into those signs and removing them would mean that the significant investments they have allocated to these signs would go down the drain Advertising agencies would argue that placing limitations on the size type and location of advertising signs would be an infringement on their right to pursue investment opportunities in a country that has made serious efforts at developing an investor friendly regulatory environment Building and zoning regulations are an even more serious manifestation of this phenomenon Zoning a specific area as residential commercial industrial or as a green area always will have a very strong and direct impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the city Changing the zoning of an area from one use to another will completely alter the character of that area and of course will alter the price structure of real estate in it Any rezoning decision will create a rupture in the habitation

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-demands-of-the-few-and-the-rights-of-the-many/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Staking Territory » CSBE
    Smart Growth Desperately Seeking Amman The Urban Planning Moment Zero Tolerance The Demands of the Few and the Rights of the Many Staking Territory Goodbye Nature Have To vs Want To Whose Street is it Anyway What Happened in my Neighborhooud Exploring a Traffic Intersection Building Communities Moving Around Amman Moving Around the City Searching for the Inoffensive Gas Station Sweifieh Revisited Model Streets To Centralize or Decentralize Educating Architects and Planners What If Ever growing Amman Exploring the Early Islamic City Rehabilitating Old Aleppo The Landscaping Challenge If You Can t Maintain It Don t Build It Disposable Buildings Buy Now Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Staking Territory Staking Territory Urban Crossroads 57 Makeshift parking obstacles placed along the side of a street Basma Abdallah Go around Amman and you will find an abundance of obstacles that residents and shop owners place along the sides of streets in front of their houses and shops These obstacles feature an interesting range of objects including portable no parking signs discarded containers furniture items long pipes inserted into buckets filled with concrete large pieces of stone and concrete blocks The obstacles are used to prohibit drivers from parking their vehicles in those areas and consequently mark territories that are reserved for the use of the residents and for the shop owners and their customers This is a disturbing phenomenon The issue is not about whether one should or should not be able to park at those locations but about this phenomenon being an example of people taking the law into their own hands Regulating parking along the streets of Amman falls under the jurisdiction of an official public body the Traffic Department When private citizens begin to decide who is allowed and who is not allowed to park along public streets they are infringing upon the authority of the law As usually is the case when people take the law into their own hands we are presented with one of two scenarios In some cases people feel that the lack of adequate regulations or the poor enforcement of those regulations results in a situation in which their rights are not protected and are

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/staking-territory/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Goodbye Nature » CSBE
    in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Goodbye Nature Goodbye Nature Urban Crossroads 56 Building activity in the hills of the Ajlun area Mohammad al Asad I recently drove up north to the Jerash and Ajlun areas It had just been raining The dust that accumulates during the summer months had been washed away and the landscape had a very fresh and clean feel to it The winding roads that pass through the region provide pleasant and often striking vistas of its mountains and valleys revealing wooded expanses and agricultural fields with town interspersed in between In spite of this elating scenery one could not but also feel a sense of concern and distress The reason behind this is urban sprawl The often unregulated insensitive and chaotic growth of Jordan s cities and towns is gradually but surely destroying the country s few precious green areas Every year wooded and agricultural areas are being razed to make way for buildings usually shoddily built ones that are scarring the landscape and in many cases completely taking it over Cities and towns do grow In a country with a high rate of population growth such as Jordan the expansion of constructed areas seems bound to continue to accommodate population increases at least until the country s population stabilizes However there are good ways and not so good ways of allowing this expansion to take place Jordan has a very limited supply of wooded and cultivated areas Statistics indicate that they occupy less than 5 of the country s overall area with forests making up less than 1 of the country s area It therefore is only logical that serious efforts be made to protect those zones Unfortunately most population pressures continue to concentrate on them and they are being sacrificed regularly to feed the insatiable demand for parceled pieces of land on which construction is allowed What are the reasons behind this disturbing development Part of it is the accumulated effect of poor planning policies Indications that Jordan would be experiencing very rapid population growth as a result of both high birth rates and migration have been very clear for over a half a century Effective policies should have been put in place since then to regulate the sprawl resulting from urban growth Green belts that would be dedicated to agricultural activities or developed as wooded areas should have been planned between urban settlements Moreover construction activity should have been directed towards the more arid parts of the country such as areas to the east of Amman traditionally known as those east of the railway tracks A very important manifestation of this policy is to prohibit any fragmentation of large tracks of land Minimum plot areas

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/goodbye-nature/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Have To vs. Want To » CSBE
    Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Have To vs Want To Have To vs Want To Urban Crossroads 55 There are certain activities we do in the streets and public spaces of the city because we have to and other activities we do because we want to The have to category includes moving around the city to carry out tasks such as going to work to school or to buy items and pay for services we need We might or might not enjoy carrying out these various tasks but we still have to do them The want to category includes going out for a walk or a run meeting friends or reading a newspaper in a sidewalk café or attending an open air concert We do not have to engage in these activities we do them because we want to In every urban center people regularly carry out the various tasks belonging to the have to category However the true mark of a great city is when more and more of its residents engage in activities in its streets and public spaces belonging to the want to category What are the elements of attraction in a city that make us want to experience it Climate is an important factor The milder the climate of a city the more its residents would want to spend time in its outdoor spaces A rich historical heritage is another source of attraction and such a heritage may range from archaeological ruins to living historical neighborhoods There also is natural beauty A city located along a scenic coastline on a hilly topography that provides impressive vistas or surrounded by areas of natural beauty will attract its residents to experience its outdoor spaces Low crime rates are another important issue A safe city encourages people to spend time outdoors rather than locking themselves inside their houses Also of tremendous significance is the ability to move in the city This is greatly facilitated when the city is pedestrian friendly when basic services are within walking distance and when the city has a decent public transportation system Driving conditions also affect the manner in which people experience a city Although automobile dominance definitely undermines the quality of urban life the importance of the automobile as a means of transportation in the city cannot be denied If one has to depend on the private automobile in getting around the city then it helps if drivers are courteous the driving experience is safe and traffic congestion is controlled Of course there is the issue of the quantity and quality of public spaces Any healthy city

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/have-to-vs-want-to/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Whose Street is it Anyway? » CSBE
    Gas Station Sweifieh Revisited Model Streets To Centralize or Decentralize Educating Architects and Planners What If Ever growing Amman Exploring the Early Islamic City Rehabilitating Old Aleppo The Landscaping Challenge If You Can t Maintain It Don t Build It Disposable Buildings Buy Now Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Whose Street Is It Anyway Whose Street Is It Anyway Urban Crossroads 54 A typical construction site in Amman with construction materials placed on the adjacent street Mohammad al Asad One of my clearest childhood memories of Amman is that of construction activity constantly taking place throughout the city This has not changed today as evident in the immediate vicinity of the house in which my family lives Construction work has been going on in this neighborhood since we moved into it about 15 years ago Although most of the empty plots around us have been filled up since then the vast majority of the buildings in our area have not reached the four story limit allowed by existing building codes Considering the tremendous rise in real estate values that has been taking place in Amman over the past few years it is almost certain that the owners of these buildings will construct extensions to the buildings until the maximum four story limit is reached Construction work in our neighborhood therefore will continue well into the foreseeable future All this construction activity is an indication of economic growth This is a good sign although one would like to see more of that growth directed towards sectors of our economy other than the construction sector In any case a main problem we face as a result of this continuous construction activity is that construction sites in Amman almost always are eyesores that litter adjacent streets with construction materials and debris This is especially true of relatively small scale construction projects such as additions to existing buildings as well as single family houses apartment buildings and small scale commercial structures Even in the case of large scale construction projects the best we usually can expect in terms of visually shielding the construction site from the street is a few shoddily and hastily assembled corrugated

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/whose-street-is-it-anyway/ (2016-02-13)
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