The site is located in the growing suburb of Dabouq to the north of Amman, renowned for its wealth of native oaks. It is a single family house built on a total site area of 1,981sq meters.
The project endeavors to create a dialogue between topography and architecture by its formal and spatial response to the sloping landscape. This relationship is characterized by organizing the plan of the house around one continuous movement that creates a rectangular shape with a centralized courtyard. One side resting on the ground and the other one is entirely elevated above the slope of the site. This condition creates an open external room defined on one side by the landscape and on the other by a roof defined by the suspended upper. Accordingly, the house complements its natural setting, with its spatial interim forming a sinuous movement with the topography. Moreover, its shape becomes a conduit for the prevailing winds that are allowed to permeate the structure.
The sculptured condition of the design recalls forms of Sol Lewitt, and is further suggested by the hand chiseled material of the seamless surface which allows the mass of the building to appear as a monolith.
The building is punctuated by a pattern of fenestrations with a proportional system at play that articulates the very sizes of the windows. The relationship between the external and internal spaces is further emphasized by the floor plan. The plan is structured around two L-shaped chiseled concrete components, varying in elevation. This creates a series of spaces that simultaneously overlook the internal setting and the external landscape, and which fluidly expand and ebb into each other.
Nevertheless, each component contains distinct functions: the lower element intended for public use, while the upper for private use. The intermediate level consists of an L-shaped terrace with two open-air rooms located at either end of the building. The intention of the elevation and the window patterns is to juxtapose the contrast between heaviness and lightness. This aspect is also generally expressed in massing of the structure. The structure of the ground floor consists of system of columns and beams that support the upper cantilevered level. The upper level is conceived as an entirely structural element, made up of solid structural wall beams. Both structural components of lower and upper levels are integrated as unified structural element. This project attempts to explore the norms of conventional construction by further investing it with a distinct structural and spatial capacity, thereby transforming it.
About the architect:
Sahel Al Hiyari is the principal architect at Sahel Al Hiyari Architects. He holds Bachelor Degrees in Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He carried out post-graduate work at the School of Architecture at the University of Venice, where he also taught from 1993-1995. In addition, his teaching activities include design studios “Arch Lab” organized by the Centre for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) in collaboration with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2002 and 2004, as well as an option studio at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (fall 2010), and a vertical design studio at the American University of Beirut (fall 2011). He has lectured at Columbia University, Physical Development Research Centre in Iran, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Harvard University, the American University of Beirut and ETH Zurich. His work has been published internationally, as well as exhibited in Jordan at “The Khalid Shoman Foundation” and in New York at “The Center of Architecture”. In 2002, Al Hiyari was chosen as the first architect to receive the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, according to which he has been a protégé of architect Álvaro Siza of Portugal. He has served as a reviewer and a member of the Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Additionally, he is a painter and has exhibited in Jordan, Lebanon and Italy.
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