I participated for a week in the Mapping of abandoned buildings held by Studio-X Amman (Studio-X Amman is a regional platform for architecture design and research run by Columbia GSAPP and the Columbia Global Centers). The project was very eye-opening and showed me a lot about the history of the downtown area of my city which is considered the older part of the Jordanian capital. The aim of the project was to answer some stressing questions such as; do we need to extend to outside the capital, are we making good use of the of the available spaces and buildings. questions that occurred to me where; how the surge of refugees, or guests as I like to call them, that have arrived in Amman and all parts of Jordan have affected the dynamics of the city, also, what can we do to make things better. Throughout our long walks and talking to people I could see how the downtown area, more locally known as “The Balad” has gone through tremendous transformations.
One could see the clear presence of the early settlers of the city “The Circassians” through street and neighborhood’s names such as the “Shabsough” and “Qabartay” streets, who lived in the downtown area in the late nineteenth century.
I can also see its glory days when it was a posh place to live at through the villas and residences of some wealthy families at that time.
While talking to people, many were welcoming, however, others were a bit suspicious of the reasons why we were doing this research, my group members and I had to explain sometimes that this is a research to understand the archeological history of the downtown area.