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  • Amman's Urban Fabric: What Went Wrong? » CSBE
    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 Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Urban Crossroads 29 Sharif Hussein bin Ali Street at night The Jordan Times My recent article Sweifieh A case of urban deterioration raised more interest than I had expected The feedback I received brought up two inquiries The first asks for explanations as to why the quality of Amman s urban fabric has deteriorated over the past three decades The second asks what solutions may be presented to upgrade a district such as Sweifieh Neither inquiry is easy to answer I will devote this article to responding to the first inquiry and will deal with solutions in the upcoming article or two In attempting to identify what went wrong in the evolution of Amman s urban fabric over the past three decades I should emphasize that my diagnosis is preliminary and in some cases conjectural A problem one faces when attempting to understand the physical evolution of Amman is that research on the subject is still in its infancy We therefore know relatively little about the choices that decision makers made regarding this issue from the time modern Amman was first inhabited during the second half of the nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century if not later There are a number of reasons why the quality of Amman s urban fabric has declined over the past three decades or so and I would like to emphasize two of them One reason relates to the extremely rapid growth of the city A quarter of a century ago in 1979 the population of Amman had increased to about 625 000 people which remained a relatively manageable size for a city Since then the population has multiplied over three times to currently reach about two million people This mainly has been the result of natural growth and migration but also a result of establishing the Greater Amman Municipality in 1987 which merged a number of small surrounding towns with the capital The rate of Amman s growth has been high since the 1920s and has included sudden dramatic surges resulting from regional turmoil as in 1948 1967 and 1990 Its overall size remained manageable during much of this period However as its population has approached two million inhabitants

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/amman-s-urban-fabric-what-went-wrong/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Energy Consumption in the City » CSBE
    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 Energy Consumption in the City Energy Consumption in the City Urban Crossroads 28 T raffic congestion in the city The Jordan Times Jordan an importer of an average of 110 000 barrels of oil per day needs to think seriously about developing energy conservation strategies Oil prices are reaching exorbitant levels and there is general agreement that prices will remain high This is not only because of political instabilities affecting one oil producing country or the other but also because of the rapidly increasing energy consumption and consequent oil imports taking place in the world s two most populous countries China and India both of which are experiencing robust economic growth It is in the city where most energy consumption takes place A great deal of that consumption is the result of transportation needs Also important are the heating and cooling requirements in buildings There are other major sources of energy consumption such as industrial production but this falls beyond the scope of this article In the case of transportation the solutions to reducing energy consumption are well known The most important is developing efficient high quality public transportation systems and to encourage their widespread use It clearly is more energy efficient to rely on transportation vehicles such as buses which can transport dozens of people instead of cars which in many cases are used to transport only one person the driver A less acknowledged source of energy conservation is telecommuting Accordingly information would travel through high speed telecommuting networks without requiring someone to physically transport the information as with a courier or messenger The potentials for telecommuting are boundless They include allowing people to work from their homes and to communicate with colleagues through telephones and the Internet Telecommuting also makes it possible to buy items through the Internet such as plane tickets and hotel reservations renewing all types of subscriptions whether magazines or insurance as well as carrying out various transactions such as banking or governmental transactions paying fees and taxes or renewing one s automobile registration Each of these various purchases or transactions requires a round trip or more for the person involved thus wasting time and energy and contributing to traffic congestion If carried out through the Internet these transactions in contrast may be done from the comfort of

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/energy-consumption-in-the-city/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Sweifieh: A Case of Urban Deterioration » CSBE
    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 A Case of Urban Deterioration Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration Urban Crossroads 27 A street in Sweifieh Jumana Bissiso A few days ago my wife and I wanted to buy clothes for our two children So all of us went to Sweifieh Suwayfiyyah is a more accurate transliteration one of Amman s better known shopping districts to look for clothes I rarely go to Sweifieh and this recent excursion there reminded me why that is so A few weeks ago I wrote an article stating that Jabal al Luweibdeh is Amman s most beautiful district In this article I argue that Sweifieh in contrast is one of the city s most unpleasant districts The area is one where chaos rules supreme If you need to drive through it brace yourself for a most unpleasant experience One is overwhelmed by extensive traffic congestion coupled with bad driving habits The parking situation is nightmarish Vehicles are parked everywhere and in just about every conceivable manner The arrangement of parked vehicles resembles what you get when a child throws his toy cars on the floor The state of the sidewalks is pathetic and they do not seem to conform to any design standards Continuous stretches of sidewalks simply are nonexistent We walked through a small stretch of Sweifieh desperately trying to find an area where we might walk comfortably and safely without worrying about moving vehicles poorly paved sidewalks and sudden level changes We came across a restaurant that simply had taken over the whole sidewalk with its chairs and tables We came across un built plots where instead of sidewalks there are litter filled stretches of dirt when it is dry and mud when it is wet We walked by buildings under construction with no screening to provide visual shields and physical protection for pedestrians Of course there also are the sudden drops in the level of the sidewalk as one moves from one building to the other Ironically lining the chaotic streets and sidewalks of Sweifieh are some of Amman

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/sweifieh-a-case-of-urban-deterioration/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Growth of Buildings » CSBE
    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 The Growth of Buildings The Growth of Buildings Urban Crossroads 26 Front cover of book One of my favorite books on architecture is Steward Brand s How Buildings Learn What Happens After They re Built This 1994 book points out that buildings often are intended as static objects as works of permanence that convey timeless reliability The reality however is that buildings regularly are forced to adapt because the usages taking place in them and around them change constantly The author investigates what happens to buildings over time He cites how the designs of houses have evolved over the course of the twentieth century as their inhabitants have acquired cars as women have joined the workforce and how the television set has become the central fixture around which family life often concentrates He also explains how commercial buildings continuously have to adapt to accommodate new uses and new tenants Businesses grow or fail When they grow they move Brand also makes the interesting comment that because of continuous developments in communications technologies office buildings require rewiring at an average of once every seven years Not only do our needs and expectations from buildings change but so do building techniques and materials In this context Brand mentions the example of Architectural Graphic Standards which he refers to as the American builder s bible for design and construction details This publication first appeared in 1932 Less than one of the 864 pages of the 1932 edition survived into the 1988 edition Brand emphasizes that all buildings grow They will grow even when zoning laws do not allow them to do so In some cases buildings even will be extended underground where the zoning authorities would not be able to detect the extension The author emphasizes that this continuous evolution of buildings has strong economic ramifications He states that the building industry is the second largest in the world after agriculture Office buildings are the largest capital asset of developed nations and employ half of their

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-growth-of-buildings/ (2016-02-13)
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  • A Tale of Two Shops » CSBE
    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 A Tale of Two Shops A Tale of Two Shops Urban Crossroads 25 Shops in Amman Jumana Bississo There are two small neighborhood shops located close to our home One is a grocery store and the other is a stationary shop They both sell items that just about everyone in the neighborhood regularly needs The former sells foodstuff the latter sells stationary items newspapers and magazines as well as toys and also provides photocopying services Although the presence of both shops is needed in the neighborhood the stationary shop represents everything that a neighborhood shop should be while the grocery store represents everything that a neighborhood shop should not be The stationary shop is clean and well lit The grocery shop is dirty and poorly lit The stationary shop only has a small newspaper rack on the sidewalk or what theoretically qualifies as a sidewalk The grocery store takes over the whole sidewalk in front of it where a large refrigerator for soft drinks and a number of empty crates are placed The area in front of the stationary shop is clean The area around the grocery store is littered with soft drink cans and bottles candy wrappers and potato chips bags all sold by the grocery store The difference between the two shops extends to include the quality of people that frequent each of them The stationary shop attracts people of all ages The grocery store is particularly popular amongst loitering teenagers The owner of the stationary shop knows many of

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/a-tale-of-two-shops/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Economics of Zoning: Jabal Amman's First Circle Area » CSBE
    The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Urban Crossroads 24 End of Abu Bakr al Siddiq Street Rainbow Street with a view towards Ashrafia Jumana Bississo A positive development that has taken place in Amman since the early 1990s is the manner in which Jabal Amman s First Circle Area has evolved This area which primarily belongs to the period extending from the 1930s to the 1950s provides an important testimony to the evolution of modern Amman Many of the figures that created modern Jordan were residents of this area Its main street Abu Bakr al Siddiq Street commonly known as Rainbow Street after the cinema and grocery store located along it once boasted some of the city s most exclusive shops By the 1970s a process of gradual decline began to affect that area A good number of the families that had lived there migrated outwards to the newer neighborhoods of Amman New shops appeared at the outer edges of the city and eclipsed the ones along Rainbow Street Such a decline surprisingly was a blessing in disguise Since relatively little activity took place in the area during the 1970s and 1980s its older buildings were left in relative peace and only a few of them were torn down Had the area been the center of much activity a good deal of its structures would have been demolished as a result of the economic boom that took place in Amman during the 1970s to be replaced by commercial structures The area would have been transformed into a crowded and noisy district of non descript shops and offices as has happened in other parts of the city such as Jabal al Hussein Shmeisani and Sweifieh Fortunately the area managed to retain much of its original character by undergoing a process of elegant decline A few of its original inhabitants also refused to leave it thus helping limit the decline and ensuring that it would not deteriorate into an example of urban blight By the end of the 1980s the value of real estate in the area was relatively depressed in relation to other parts of Amman By the 1990s however some interest in the area began to emerge A couple of monographs were published around that time that addressed its architectural heritage thus bringing some attention to a forgotten treasure of our city A few individuals and non governmental organizations with an appreciation of its special character and an interest in its preservation moved into it The low prices of real estate in the area provided an added incentive for them to do so They acquired buildings there and rehabilitated them as offices shops cafes and residences These generally small scale developments were the result of uncoordinated private initiatives but they had the wonderful effect of saving the

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-economics-of-zoning-jabal-amman-s-first-circle-area/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Nooks and Crannies » CSBE
    Land Plots The Municipal Three Legged Stool To Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg The Trans Jordan 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 Nooks and Crannies Nooks and Crannies Urban Crossroads 23 The city has a diversity of surfaces These surfaces include streets which most often are paved with asphalt There also are or at least should be sidewalks which are paved in various materials usually various types of pre cast paving concrete units A good part of the surfaces of the city of course is occupied by the footprints of buildings In addition there are the empty spaces of the city These include un built plots which were discussed in a previous article of the series There also are areas that serve as parks or plazas which will be discussed in later articles of the series However I would like to emphasize in this article the leftover spaces of the city its nooks and crannies These include embankments flanking roads street medians the areas around footpaths public stairs and the small plots of land that result from some sort of urban intervention such as the opening or widening of a road These areas are too small to build upon or to develop into a park They also are areas that in the case of Amman at least no one seems to know how to deal with In regions blessed with high levels of rainfall such areas when unpaved usually

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/nooks-and-crannies/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Surfaces of the City: Concrete » CSBE
    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 Surfaces of the City Concrete Surfaces of the City Concrete Urban Crossroads 22 Concrete surface in Amman Jumana Bississo When describing Amman it is common to refer to it as a city of white sandstone buildings This use of sandstone as a sheathing material provides Amman with a sense of character and also provides its buildings with an element of continuity It also tones down the effects of some of the city s more obnoxious architectural displays of which there is no shortage In addition sandstone is locally quarried and needs relatively little maintenance However we often overlook the fact that a good part of Amman s buildings are not sheathed with stone Instead they are both constructed of and covered with that most ubiquitous material of the modern period concrete Concrete which is defined as a hard compact building material formed when a mixture of cement sand gravel and water dries was used extensively by the Romans almost two thousand years ago but then more or less was forgotten and not revived until the late eighteenth century A powerful revolution in the use of concrete took place at the end of the nineteenth century with the development in France of reinforced concrete which is concrete that is strengthened by iron bars or an iron mesh embedded inside it Since then the use of reinforced concrete has spread throughout the world at a phenomenal rate Much of the construction taking in Amman and in Jordan as a whole incorporates cement and concrete finishes This ranges from the use of exposed concrete blocks to plastered concrete surfaces The results in the vast majority of cases can only be described as ugly Although the use of stone to

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/surfaces-of-the-city-concrete/ (2016-02-13)
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