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  • What Happened in my Neighborhooud » CSBE
    husband and wife have saved some money over the years They still may have to borrow some more but they finally can afford to have a place of their own They find an apartment or house they feel is suitable for them and in an area of town they like They buy the residence move in it and things work out well for a few years Then a nightmare scenario takes place The neighborhood suddenly changes for the worse It could be one or a number of things The quiet road that borders their house becomes a busy four lane thoroughfare with dangerously speeding traffic A large public organization that is frequented by hundreds of people every day is relocated near their house either in a newly built structure or in a converted apartment building A busy commercial establishment is allowed to open across the street Life in the neighborhood becomes intolerable Traffic along the street becomes too busy fast and dangerous Residents often cannot even find an empty parking spot in front of or near their houses The noise of the traffic or of the music coming out of the restaurant or banquet hall that has popped up in the neighborhood is too loud and continues well into the night I have heard versions of this story too many times and it has become uncomfortably familiar The last time I came across it involves a café that was allowed to open in the middle of a residential neighborhood The café has become very popular amongst the young and rowdy Its customers not only take up all the parking spaces along the street often double and triple parking there but their cars also block entrances to the garages of the adjacent houses Some of the customers even throw litter in the neighbors gardens The music coming out of the establishment and out of the cars that roam the street or just stand along it blares until after mid night Interestingly enough in this case the residents along the street did come together and attempted to mobilize They collectively contacted various relevant governmental bodies to come up with a solution to their predicament but to no avail The people who relayed this story to me said that life has become insufferable along their street They therefore have put their house up for sale and are searching for a new place in which to live However they are very worried that the same scenario eventually may be repeated wherever they move in Amman In principle there is nothing wrong with mixed use neighborhoods that house residential and other uses whether commercial or public I lived for a number of years abroad along a street where the ground floor consisted of commercial enterprises which included various shops grocery stores restaurants and a cinema with offices above them and apartments on the upper floors I truly enjoyed living in such an environment where I simply would go down from my apartment to the street

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/what-happened-to-my-neighborhooud/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Exploring a Traffic Intersection » CSBE
    It is difficult to draw a mental map of Amman without incorporating the overpasses and underpasses or tunnels that go through a significant number of its major intersections These overpass underpass intersections which have proliferated in the city since the early 1990s have been redefining the manner in which the city functions and the manner in which it is conceived As an exploration of this issue a stimulating three week studio took place this August that addressed one of Amman s overpass underpass intersections the Haramayn intersection This intersection is marked by the crossing of two of Amman s main thoroughfares the east west Mecca Street which crosses it as an underpass and the north south Medina Street which crosses the intersection as an overpass The intersection itself is a roundabout that is used by vehicles moving along Mecca and Medina streets when they need to make left right or U turns The roundabout is bordered by buildings from two corners while the other two corners have not been built up yet Pedestrian activity around the roundabout is very limited and the site is dominated by very heavy vehicular traffic The studio was led by three architects involved in both the practice and teaching of architecture Two of them are from Jordan Sahel Al Hiyari and Yasir Sakr The third Kristopher Musumano is an American architect from New York City who joined the studio for its third week The studio s eight participants included five undergraduate and three graduate students of architecture The studio was organized by the Center for the Study of the Built Environment in association with the Royal Society of Fine Arts the National Gallery of Fine Arts with support provided by Darat al Funun the Khalid Shoman Foundation and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture The studio was less about re designing the area of the intersection although it included a bit of that than about exploring and understanding how this important example of an urban joint functions within Amman The participants discovered there is a great deal to explore and understand They started by visiting the site at different times of the day and night They drove through the site walked in it and around it and also took a bus line that passed through it They went inside its buildings and they looked at the site from the windows of those buildings and even from their rooftops They looked at the zone where the commercial area immediately around the roundabout meets the residential areas that lay just beyond it Going through the site it is difficult to imagine that a relatively serene area is located just behind it The areas where the two zones met however leave much to be desired These have become a sort of no man s zone and the commercial enterprises of the site usually dump all sorts of items such as empty containers and discarded furniture in the setbacks behind their buildings A couple of students explored the commercial

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/exploring-a-traffic-intersection/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Building Communities » CSBE
    Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Building Communities Building Communities Urban Crossroads 51 This simple small square in the Canadian town of Streetsville is a very good example of a space that brings the local community together During the summer evenings people of all ages come here to play socialize or just quietly sit down and relax The ice cream shop and coffeehouse located along the square provide added elements of attraction Mohammad al Asad Constructing roads parks and buildings is relatively easy Maintaining them is a bit more complicated Building up the communities that inhabit and use them is an even more challenging task Communities in this context are groups of people with a sense of belonging attachment and loyalty to the neighborhoods in which they live A neighborhood may have up to a few hundred people living in it Its physical borders are defined by edges such as busy streets or topographic features such as a ridge or a valley Some urban planners define a neighborhood as consisting of a cluster of housing units located around an elementary school that students may reach without having to cross busily trafficked streets A neighborhood also should have communal areas that are within walking distance as with a local park or a small grouping of shops In Amman neighborhood based communities unfortunately have eroded considerably over the past three decades or so as the city has grown from a small urban center with strong neighborhood ties into a sizable impersonal metropolitan area As a result Amman has become a city where groups of almost complete strangers live in proximity to each other with very little binding them together This is not a healthy state of affairs It leaves people with very little concern for anything that lies outside the immediate borders of their houses or apartments This partly explains why our sidewalks most often are in a state of complete disarray It also partly explains why although Amman generally is an extremely safe city where muggings for example almost are unknown break ins are relatively common When neighbors barely know each other it becomes easier for burglars to get into the houses of the neighborhood How may we begin to bring back neighborhood based communities in Amman Neighbors cannot be forced to become friends instead of strangers However there are various physical as well as policy related interventions that may promote feelings of community in a neighborhood A most basic ingredient for creating a sense of neighborhood is ensuring that it is pedestrian friendly Residents should be able to walk around their neighborhood freely and safely from vehicular traffic This not only includes developing functional sidewalks but also ensuring that neighborhoods are protected from through traffic Through traffic scars neighborhoods For example I have relatives who live about a five minute walk from our house However none of the members of my family would even think of

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/building-communities/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Moving Around Amman » CSBE
    Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Moving Around Amman Moving Around Amman Urban Crossroads 50 My last article dealt with the subject of moving around the city The article discussed walking as well as using public transportation taxis and private vehicles It also discussed alternative transportation methods as with sharing cars and riding bicycles How about moving around Amman Let us begin with walking I am not saying anything new by stating that it is extremely difficult and unpleasant to walk between any two points in Amman Just to make sure a few days ago I asked my nine year old daughter to walk with me to a nearby shop to buy a few items The experience was an adventure to say the least We rarely walk and usually drive when we need to go anywhere even to locations that are very close by Our recent walk together provided us with a strong reminder as to why we do so Soon after we started walking we reached a major street that is close to our home and we needed to cross it since the shop is located at the other side of the street My daughter told me I must be crazy to even think about crossing the street but I told her we should be adventurous and give it a try She was right We went through a five minute hair raising experience of waiting for the fast moving cars to pass by before we were able to cross to the median in the middle of the street and from there we waited for another few minutes as vehicles zipped right by us before we were able to cross to the other side of the street Other than that we had to walk by rubbish thrown all over the place and by piles of building debris We continuously had to maneuver our way along dysfunctional sidewalks with poor paving that often is dangerous to walk on regularly interrupted stretches of sidewalks and changing sidewalk heights trees in the middle of narrow sidewalks and cars parked on the wider stretches of sidewalk What is ironic and sad about all of this is that services usually are located quite close by to where one lives in Amman In the area where I live for example there is no shortage of stores located within walking distance that sell most of our daily needs However the experience of walking to those stores simply is too dangerous and unpleasant We also are blessed in Amman with very moderate year round weather Considering all of this it truly is a shame that Amman is not a pedestrian friendly city What about other forms of transportation Let me answer this question with another anecdote A new colleague an engineer who graduated from university this summer recently joined us at work She does not own a car and has been facing problems commuting between her home and work During the summer period she sometimes has

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/moving-around-amman/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Moving Around the City » CSBE
    for a maximum level of interaction between the pedestrian and the physical elements of the city such as its streets buildings and spaces and also between the pedestrian and the people around him or her thus emphasizing the role of the city as a place where people come together In recent years there has been a strong direction in urban planning as with the New Urbanism movement emphasizing that people should not have to walk for more than ten minutes from their homes to reach facilities they use regularly such as those for shopping education recreation and if possible even work Short walking distances however are not enough and other issues such as safety and comfort also should be considered It almost is useless to have close by facilities if one needs to go through the life threatening nerve wrecking experience of crossing an extremely busy street with fast traffic to get to them or if there aren t adequate sidewalks to provide pedestrians with their own zone that separates them from the dangers and disturbances of vehicular traffic Another medium through which one may get around the city is public transportation In this case vehicles would move along a pre determined path and hopefully according to a set schedule picking up and dropping off passengers along the way at specific locations The vehicles may include buses cars such as those known as service cars in Amman as well as above ground light rail and underground subway trains Public transportation vehicles are cheaper to use than private vehicles and the more people use them the more it becomes possible to alleviate problems of traffic and parking congestion There also are taxis which should not be confused with public transportation Taxis more or less are private vehicles that one hires for a short period of time to transport him or her from one point to the other The price of using them ranges from one city to the other but they generally are relatively expensive to use on a regular and continuous basis as with going to and from work every day Their use may not contribute to reducing overall traffic congestion but they do limit the need for parking spaces in the city and can limit the need for individual car ownership Of course there also is the private vehicle It is very flexible in that it allows its owner to use it whenever he or she wishes Unlike public transportation but like a taxi it is not restricted for use along a specific route However it is expensive to own a car Not only does one have to pay for the cost of purchasing a car but also has to cover its running costs as with registration insurance gas as well as routine maintenance and repair expenses In contrast to public transportation or taxis one needs to worry about finding a place to park a private car when the destination is in a very congested area In addition the

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/moving-around-the-city/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Searching for the Inoffensive Gas Station » CSBE
    Dubai Model Urban Planning and Daily Stress Sharing the Road Where Should All the Garbage Go 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 Searching for the Inoffensive Gas Station Searching for the Inoffensive Gas Station Urban Crossroads 48 A gas station in Amman Basma Abdallah Amman unfortunately has no shortage of eye soars and their numbers and types are increasing quickly These include large bulky commercial signs that plaster buildings and banners that chaotically extend across streets poorly designed parking lots that surround malls supermarkets and other large buildings and construction debris and garbage that is left at the sides of roads and in empty lots One often overlooked prominent eye soar in Amman and in Jordan in general is the gas station More often than not gas stations are grimy sites that seem to be cloaked with layers of gasoline and vehicle oil The use of landscaping in them is non existent and if a few flowers or ornamental plants happen to have been planted these poor plants barely survive or have long withered away Gas stations usually stand in the middle of an ugly sea of asphalt The various components of the gas station whether buildings canopies or gas pumps are poorly maintained The signs that are used to announce the gas station are badly designed I basically cannot think of a single positive visual feature of the gas station in Amman Even if there is an attempt to build a gas station with some aesthetic merit any positive results achieved usually are short lived Soon after the new

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/searching-for-the-inoffensive-gas-station/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Sweifieh Revistited » CSBE
    Trail The Dubai Model Urban Planning and Daily Stress Sharing the Road Where Should All the Garbage Go 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 Sweifieh Revisited Sweifieh Revisited Urban Crossroads 47 A few days ago I visited the pedestrian zone in Sweifieh The zone consists of the Sweifieh street officially known as the Salim al Qudah Street but popularly known as Wakalat Street Brand Name Street because of the numerous international brand name fashion shops located along it The street is being converted into a pedestrian zone during the summer months on a daily basis from the late afternoon hours well into the night I visited the street at a relatively late hour at about 9 30 PM I had heard that parking near the pedestrian area can be an unpleasant experience so I decided to play it safe and parked at the other side of Sweifieh and walked the distance It turned out that much of Sweifieh already had closed by that late hour so I could have parked close to the pedestrian zone without much trouble Sweifieh remains as ugly as always It has too many empty lots filled with garbage and debris What is referred to as sidewalks are a complete mess and basically unusable Dreadful large commercial signs are plastered all over the shops and buildings of the district In spite of that the pedestrian zone was a most pleasant surprise The fact that there were no cars and the street was for once the undisputed realm of the pedestrian in itself is a wonderful development

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/sweifieh-revisited/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Model Streets » CSBE
    Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Model Streets Model Streets Urban Crossroads 46 I subscribe to the notion that small is beautiful Accordingly I believe that small scale model pilot projects often present very effective solutions for certain types of problems Such projects provide opportunities to test solutions and to develop them Their small scale also allows for detailed and thorough reflection on both problems and solutions The problems I have in mind are those affecting daily urban life in Amman It seems that everybody I come across has no shortage of rightful complaints to vent out about such problems The complaints address a range of issues including poor driving and parking practices the lack of appropriate cleanliness in our streets and the state of our notoriously dysfunctional sidewalks One approach I propose to addressing these problems is to take a dozen relatively small street stretches in various areas of Amman and to develop them as model streets Any typical street would do The selection of these pilot street projects only would need to ensure proper distribution that allows a well balanced representation of different areas in Amman The streets accordingly should be distributed amongst commercial residential high and low density areas as well as those representing different income levels I took a closer look at the street on which I live to see how such a process of creating a model street might be carried out The street is about 300 meters in length which is very appropriate for such a project It begins and ends at intersections with relatively major thoroughfares and therefore has well defined boundaries It primarily is a residential street but for some reason a privately owned training center managed to get licensed along it Otherwise the street consists of multi family buildings with a few single family houses I started counting the problems that the street faces ranging from the aesthetically offensive to outright violations of building codes and zoning regulations After identifying about two dozen problems and violations I gave up counting Most of the sidewalks along the street are completely dysfunctional and a part of the street does not even have a sidewalk The sidewalks suffer from the usual list of problems affecting sidewalks in Amman These include trees planted in the center of narrow sidewalks sidewalks that are too high and therefore very difficult for pedestrians to get on and off abrupt drops in level that interrupt stretches of sidewalks and inadequate if non existent sidewalk maintenance and upkeep Another unpleasant aspect of life along the street is that a number of residents place their garbage in poorly tied bags and leave them along the sidewalk as close as possible to their neighbors properties and away from the entrances of their houses rather than in the communal garbage bins found at the end of the street In turn these garbage bins are in very bad shape They are heavily battered their wheels often are missing and there are

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/model-streets/ (2016-02-13)
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