Herskhazeen sat down with architect Sahel Al Hiyari recently to discuss his latest project, the renovation of Turbo; an abandoned car repair shop at the edge of downtown Amman that was turned into a dynamic cultural space.
The design was created to cater to Turbo’s diverse and multidisciplinary program. The space hosts talks, events, exhibitions and music events. Moreover, the space includes Turbo’s working offices for founders and designers Saeed Abu Jaber and Mothanna Hussein.
Sahel stated that his approach to design the space was the antithesis of typical renovation projects. Rather than adding to the space and repairing decay, he chose to remove layers, scraping the walls and ceiling to a textured surface, leaving it exposed and untreated. The original terrazzo tiles were kept, treated and polished as well.
Sahel’s initial intention was to explore textures instead of creating an intrusive glossy end-result that would clash with the surrounding environment. For this project, he sampled different aspects of the surrounding context, such as the run-down spaces for their textures and the 50’s aesthetics of downtown cinemas.
The large mirror mounted on the wall at the end of the space internalizes the context, reflecting the street inside the venue. As for the lighting elements, the inspiration came from Ammani cinemas that were thriving in the fifties. Sahel paid homage to the modern architecture of the 50s with a strip of light bulbs on the upper side of the mirror similar to the one found in changing rooms in theaters. Custom-made chandeliers made from tessellating pyramids and finished in a rustic-gold metallic tone were hung from the ceiling and a striped pattern was added to the ceiling, referencing Gio Ponti’s motif.
Sahel concluded that he wanted to create an adaptive space that could move, change and evolve according to the diverse program instead of making a frozen interior, rendering it as a fluid and inclusive venue.
Turbo is located at the edge of the old town, in a building owned by the art and design patron Mamdouh Bsharat. Mr. Bsharat is on a quest to revive the area by supporting creatives to launch their businesses and cultural spaces to battle gentrification as the area is generally abandoned and rundown.
Jawad Stool at Turbo © Turbo
Click here for Al Saket Residence by Sahel Al Hyari