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Mapping Jabal Al Natheef Publication

Editors and workshop curators: Arini


Liyan Aljabi
Heba Alnajada
Mohammad Aljabi
Christoph Lueder


Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid
Dr. Siobhan Campbell
Ed Wall
Samar Dudin
Ohoud Kamal
Mohammad Al Hajji

Community partner: Ruwwad | رواد التنمية

Academic Partner: German Jordanian University

Publication design:

Arini produced an in-depth study of the socio-spatial structures of the refugee camp’s built environment. Arini continued its investigation; throughout 2014 we carried out focus groups, discussions and meetings with the community.

Mapping Jabal Al Natheef project investigates and compiles data in the pursuit of interventions that are scenario and time based. Considering design as an open act of capacity building, we examine mapping processes as active agents of change. This presents a chance for us urbanists, architects, and designers to understand the spatial dynamics of a community —that evolved to become integrated into the economic activity and into their urban environment— consequently unlock its socio-economic opportunities.

This project introduces two phases of intensive investigation and extensive exploration.


Approach and Methodology

Our project began with a question: How can we, as urbanists, designers and architects understand the interdependence between Jabal Al Natheef’s built environment and its social structure in order to assist with unlocking its socio-economic opportunities?

© Hadeel Ayed Mohammad

The full publication on Issuu:

© Hadeel Ayed Mohammad

In Phase I, which began in winter 2012, we carried focus groups, discussions and Mapping Jabal Al Natheef workshop —Autumn 2013—. At the end of this, we bring forward this publication to present the research the contributors and we have been working on. In Phase II, which begins the following winter, Arini team will continue its exploration of strategic design as an instrument engaging both material and social change; social scenarios will be coupled with novel design proposals to develop physical interventions concerned with the everyday life of the camp residents. The iterative methodologies focus on investigations of spatial, structural and material organisation, engaging in discourses of architecture and urbanism.

© Hadeel Ayed Mohammad


The project approach focused on dissecting one study strip into five areas and layers related to those areas:

Built Environment: What are the elements of the built environment, their condition and typologies?

Housing: What are the existing housing typologies?

Needs: What are the needs of the inhabitants of the area?

Socio-economic status: What is the condition of the inhabitants of the area

These five areas provided the framework around which the collected data was organized.


Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies were used, and then employed critical analysis to review the data.

Qualitative: One-on-one process, posed questions directly to individuals of the community, the interviewers investigated the richness of emotions and impressions through multimedia recordings. Qualitative data were in the form of interviews, group discussions and observations.

Quantitative: Detailed social questionnaires distributed to a sample of 50 inhabitants of the area.

Critical Analysis: Both research techniques were followed by a critical analysis of the data, where we reflected on the generated information to come up with patterns, urban indicators, and relationships in order to develop conclusions.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Khalid Ali

© Khalid Ali

© Khalid Ali


This project was made possible by the brilliant 29 participants from multidisciplinary backgrounds we had on board; architectsurban plannerscurators we had on board.

Angel Jirkisian
Hadeel Mohmad
Haitham Kurdi
Hiba Jarar
Khaled Ali
Lana Salameh
Lina Ghanem
Luai Kurdi
Mayassa Al Damerji
Mohamamd Mango
Mohammad Naji
Nadin Sh Yassin
Namariq Al Rawi
Nida Mouhsin
Nizar Taha
Noura Al Khasawneh
Nujud Ashour
Nure Shammout
Ola Kaka
Rand Al Haj Hassan
Raslan Hawi
Sally Odeh
Sara Nowar
Shada Qahoush
Sofeen Salameh
Sonia Nimri
Tara Yamak
Zeid Madi
Zeina Al Thawabteh

Closing Event at German Jordan University, darat othman bdeir

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi


This project was made possible by a generous contribution by the following organizations:

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East


Click here to see the day-to-day workshop details


Madafa the Food and Culture Pavilion

Curated by Arini for Amman Design Week 2016

Designed by:

Rasem Kamal

Saja Nashashibi

Construction manager: Esam Aljabi

3D renders: Pixel Visualization

Lighting Designer: Ali Homoud, Ideal Concepts Co. (ICC)

Containers: NewCities 

Set within the winding pathway between Al Hussein Cultural Center and Greater Amman Municipality MADAFA pavilion was developed for Amman Design Week 2016 to enhance the surrounding landscape and envisioned for being a spot of exposition.

The pavilion is a modern interpretation of the Madafa, a traditional Jordanian space that is built to entertain, host and feed the guests during their visits. The rich narrative of the Madafa inevitably encouraged users to explore parallels with contemporary architecture as it was created as place of gathering through hosting a series of cultural events and live music.

In all its parts, MADAFA encompassed a multi-layered sensorial experience, a welcoming place to rest, a place that allowed visitors to indulge in exclusively designed food, specialty dishes and gourmet snacks developed with food professionals and served in distinctive tray prototypes. 

Encompassed within the MADAFA, three shipping containers were repurposed within the promenade to host a set of local restaurants and cafes. Standing free with all their sides visible, the containers are an integral part of a steel grid modular enclosure. Creating a presence in the pathway that changes as you move around it and through it, the pavilion became a scene set against the backdrop of Amman’s mountains

The grid modular system enclosure was built using weathered steel tubes and joints. The solution was implemented to showcase the beautiful backdrop which is the complex and layered mountains of Amman. The modular system also permitted the pavilion to be permeable while creating a definition for the space. The structure was made of 7 tons of steel, 1,020 steel cubes and 21,000 washers and screws. The pavilion was built in 6 days due to the special nature of the location.

Lightning and shadow played major part in the experiencing of MADAFA. At night visitors moved throughout the space as it fades into darkness due to the washed lighting effect which illuminated the lower surfaces. During the day, visitors enjoyed the dramatic and transformative play of shadows as the sun rendered different architectural patterns throughout the day.

Arini's approach to successful activism in design and urban development projects has enabled more than 30 economically vulnerable and marginalized youths and workers from different communities and tradespeople dwelling in the Downtown area while constructing MADAFA.

Shadow play

© Rasem Kamal

About the designers

Rasem Kamal, an architect and a Fulbright fellow with a Master's degree in Architecture from the Rice School of Architecture. Kamal is currently working at the Basel studio of Oppenheim Architecture. Prior to that, he worked with several regional and international architectural firms including Symbiosis Designs, SOM and AS.Architecture-Studio in Paris.

Saja Nashashibi, Managing Partner and Principal Architect of Paradigm Design House, a collaboration of talented architects and designers whose main aim is to transform creative potentials brought by design opportunities into reality and the team works with clients through an integrated approach affecting the environment, local economies and community.

About Amman Design Week

Amman Design Week aims to be an annual event that celebrates talent and experimentation with the intent of encouraging the growth and proliferation of the design sector in Jordan, in an environment that stimulates learning and innovation. Supported by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Amman Design Week piloted in September 2016, creating a platform that will bolster Jordan’s design sector and move it toward international recognition and acknowledgment.

RE-THINKING THE TRADITIONAL Furniture Design, led by Suliman Innab and Hamza Omari

In collaboration with Alãan, the workshop focused on furniture design; Designers re-imagined traditional furniture items to give a new life to the traditional function and form, addressing the relationships between function, form, material, texture, and feeling by thinking about one key question “How would we do it now?"

The workshop will take a second look at materials that have fallen out of utility in favor of modern alternatives. During the course of this hands-on workshop participants will be challenged to reimagine how traditional materials can be modified to fit a more contemporary lifestyle.

Event posters

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All images by Arini ©

Photographer: Mohammad Aljabi



Alāan Artspace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Architect and designer Suliman Innab, principal architect at Morph-X Studio. Amman, Jordan.

Industrial engineer and product designer Hamza Omari, Designer at Loci, Dubai UAE.

A big thank you goes to Neama alsydayri , Dana Qabbani  from Alāan Artspace for fecelitating the workshop


Sarah R. Raslan
Farah Saud Alhejalain
Neama alsydayri
Abrahim alkaryf
Gyda fahad
Ahmad aldwaish
Dana AlGudiri
May Alsaloom
Reem Olyan Al rajudi
heba alghala
samah alswayan

The Untitled Swing Project

Curated by Arini for Abwab, Dubai Design Week 2015

Designed by:

Dina Haddadin
Omar Al-Zo’bi
Rand El Haj Hasan
Rula Yaghmour

Electro-mechanical designer:

Zaid Al-Soudi

Construction manager:

Esam Aljabi

Abwab curator:

Rawan Kashkoush

© Lucio Bracamontes

©Dubai Design Week Design Abwab Jordan

A Dubai Design Week initiative, Abwab, meaning “doors” in Arabic, is a series of six architectural pavilions that showcase the work of the most exciting designers, studios and curators from six different countries in the Middle East and the near region. Inspired by the imagination that drives childhood play, the Jordan pavilion draws on the swing, or ‘murjeiha’ to evoke memories of its designers’ childhood. With the help of accelormeters and Arduinos, the team introduced interaction design that allows one to generate and activate the present surroundings while challenging gravity. The simple swinging motion converts into a visual and audible translation, the designers said in a release.

With play and imagination in mind, Jordan’s designers are drawing on the swing, or ‘murjeiha’, to represent their collective childhood. Paradoxes form the base their new design of the swing ‘murjeiha’: Imagination versus reality; cradle versus stand still; mental versus physical power; visibility versus invisibility; unfurling versus weaving; and finally, mindfulness versus mindlessness.

Prevalent in Jordan is the release into air, as playtime regularly involves kite-flying and swinging high. Whether the altitudes of Amman’s hilltops inspire the seeking of new heights, or that the country’s natural air being crisp and cool year round asks to be sliced– the untitled swing project summons flight through the memory of Jordanian pastime.

© Omar Al-Zo'bi

Event's poster displayed at the pavilion (click to zoom in)

Graphic by Omar Alzo'bi, eyen Design

Construction Time lapses

Check out our Vimeo account for more time lapses and video

"We recreated the swing, or “Murjeiha” in colloquial Jordanian, in an immersive experience that employs an environment of blank canvases lending themselves to be transformed and imagined-upon.
With the help of accelorometers and Arduinos, we introduced an interactive design that allows you to generate and activate your surroundings all while challenging gravity. The simple swinging motion converts into a different visual and audible translation."

©Dubai Design Week Design

©Dubai Design Week Design

When it was playtime, the game that everybody knew how to play was our very own imagination. Imagination fueled us with the limitless abilities to create new worlds, change our environments and explore alternative realities.

The magnifying and augmentative powers that took simple or mundane things from around us to transform them into objects and situations far more than what they are, it was so easy for us to live alternative realities where we're gymnasts with a little stolen flour from home, enjoy a delicacy made completely out of mud or grabbing a mattress to become our speedy slide down the stairs.

Our brains got used to it, we mastered the art of imagination and it all almost became a constant process of weaving our imaginations however we wished to see further and beyond of what is it that lies in our tangible realities and right before our eyes.

It was bound to happen that for all of us to revert back and tread down our childhood memory lanes. But our questions soon rid themselves of nostalgia and yearning to try and understand what armed us with such power and liberty, whether from hiding and seeking to jumping, swinging and defying gravity? What is this ultimate liberation and also power we had that we wholeheartedly believe we do not own anymore? And the answers came as short bursts justifying that this is life, growth or rather being a grown up.

With this extreme shift that took place as we were growing up, we had to re-accustom ourselves to not be fascinated anymore and our readiness to play and be infatuated were re-adjusted to Þt fast-moving realities and the chase behind making ends meet, so what would jolt us back into the power, liberty and imagination we had before? Our answer started becoming clearer and clearer, and we aimed to try and bring in several experiences, weave them together for anyone experiencing it to enjoy a short, yet sweet, trip into the imaginations we all had as children.

As we set out to look for what is it that brings game & play all powered by imagination the ultimate power and liberty that comes with it, our discourse have, healthily, explored several routes.

The swings are now permanently exhibited at Dubai Design District

Follow The Untitled Swing Project dedicated Instagram account

© Liyan Aljabi


About Mapping Jabal Al Natheef

This project is inspired by the challenges of the accelerated increase of urban sprawls and the consequential urban segregation of contemporary Amman. The breadth of this project delves into the living conditions that this area creates and the feasible ways in which its problems can be addressed through the regeneration of its spaces. Mapping Jabal Al Natheef is the first chapter of a multi-disciplinary regeneration and uplifting project.

The Mapping Jabal Alnadeef workshop aims to pose relevant questions and provide tools that can be of use to a discussion on Jabal Alnadeef’s possible futures. In an initial phase, a selected part of Jabal Alnadeef will be mapped at the level of detailed resolution of the Rossi Map. Subsequent phases will engage and map quotidian routines, events, and environmental parameters, registering their mutual interrelationships, overlaid over the rigorous map of physical enclosure generated in phase 1.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi

Day 01 (12/10/2013)

We were overwhelmed by the participants that joined us today. Everyone gathered and got introduced. The workshop commenced by Arini giving a presentation about the project and a thorough history about Jabal Al Nathef, followed by an introduction about Christoph Lueder and Alexandru Malaescu from Kingston University, London. After that we plugged into Ruwwad’s Dardachat discussing issues like identity, place and belonging.

After the lunch break, we started a 4 hour long brainstorming session which ended in an identification of core issues and interview strategies for next day’s tour.

© Khalid Ali

Day 02 (13/10/2013)

9:30, everyone grouped in 5’s. Each went off with the volunteers from the camp.

The tours were prosperous with interviews, observations, photographs and sketches.

After lunch we started the second session with each group documenting and then deciding on the study area and research strategy.

© Hadeel Ayed Mohammad

© Arini

Day 03 (14/10/2013)

Day started by determining the study area. which was based on day 02 Data collected from the site.

followed by a lecture by Arch. Uhod Kamal from GJU about Urban Indicators.
this led to determining the questions for the questionnaire that will be used in the 4th day of the workshop.


© Liyan Aljabi

© Khalid Ali

Day 04 (16/10/2013)

Christoph introduced the concept of critical friends. which will have a conversation with the participants on our “Mapping Jabal Alnatheef” project, helping us through their expertise in specific areas to place our work in a global context.

Christian Schmid, ETH Zurich – conversation on the basis of Studio

Basel report on Havana (on reading list), total urbanization of landscape

Adrian Lahoud, Urbanism, UCL London – conversation on Tripoli, Beirut, Amman, post traumatic urbanism

Douglas Spencer, Landscape Urbanism, AA London – urbanization of landscape

Bob Brown, Plymouth University - conversation on overseas live projects

Ed Wall, University of Greenwhich - conversation on informal urbanism

Siobhan Campbell, Irish poet and researcher on stories of conflict, Kingston University - conversation on story catching and conflict

Joseph Deane, architect, London School of Architecture - on the basis of drawing he will send, narrative of movement and encounters.

After that the groups went to the site again with survey, covering a larger number of houses to get more info and documenting floor plans and stairs and entrances typologies.

© Khalid Ali

Day 05 (17/10/2013)

The groups are working on the following.

- Site elevations.
- Rossi map for the study area.
- 3D for the stairs and the study area.
- Generating panoramas for the area from other mountains.
- Developing a theme for the critical friends.

Some of the participants stayed at the site to continue with gathering more date and documenting physical typologies, human behavior, and data related to the themes.

© Hadeel Ayed Mohammad

© Khalid Ali

© Khalid Ali

Day 06 (18/10/2013)

Friday morning breakfasts are a great tradition in Jordan. This morning we had a glorious feast of Humus, Falafel, eggplants Mtabal and many more for our great participants who should up early for work today.

After that we head back for the site for more documentation, interviews and sketching.

In the afternoon, we had the first Skype session with Mapping Jabal Al Natheef “critical friend” Christian Schmidt to discuss social interactions on rooftops.

© Khalid Ali

© Khalid Ali

© Liyan Aljabi

Day 07 (19/10/2013)

Today’s session was at Darat Othman Budair - The School of Architecture and Built Environment, GJU.

In the amazing settings of Al Darah, students started the production and conclusions phase. Photos, videos, plans, diagrams and renderings have started compiling up.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi

Day 08 (20/10/2013)

Samar Dudin – Regional Director of Ruwwad – came in today for another discussion with the participants to hear their thoughts and feedback about Jabal Al Natheef.

Participants talked about the deteriorating physical layer in the camp area and the poor infra structure. The participants shared funny and gloomy storied about their interactions with the residents. We discussed what our next move “physical intervention” i and all the obstacles we might face.

One of the conclusions was that the physical layer is the background of all the social problems and conflicts of the Camp. We have to address the social intangible layer to reach a solid intervention in the physical aspect.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Khalid Ali

© Khalid Ali

Day 09 (21/10/2013)

One day left for us to finalize and wrap up all the work we did. We have a lot of data to process. The workshop outcome was more than amazing and overwhelming.

At the end of the day Abdulla Barghothi from Ruwwad, took the groups to the highest roof top in Jabal Al Natheef with captivating 360 degrees view of Amman Mountains.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi

Day 10 (22/10/2013)

Today is the final day in Mapping Jabal Al Natheef. In the morning session the participants worked on the presentation and conclusions for the closing event.

This project was made possible by the super awesome 29 participants from multi-disciplinary backgrounds we had on board.

The closing even for Mapping Jabal Al Natheef was an amazing night to conclude Phase 01.

This project was made possible by the brilliant 29 participants from multidisciplinary backgrounds we had on board; architectsurban plannerscurators we had on board.
The workshop tutors: Christophe louder, Ohud Kamal and Alexandru Malaescu
Jabal Al Natheef residents who had been more than welcoming and generous by letting us inside their homes and sharing with us their stories.

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi

© Liyan Aljabi

In countries and cultures around the world, informal settlements, low serviced neighborhoods and refugee camps face problems resulting from inadequate infrastructure, public services, and deficiencies in their spatial organisation.

They also face a choice between differing strategies for regeneration and upgrading which negotiate between the need for renewal versus the attachment to spaces that have been lived in and developed over generations. In respecting those social and spatial cultures, and in arguing for proposals that are sensitive towards these issues, mapping strategies play a pivotal role.

In collaboration with

Christoph Lueder (Kingston University, London)
Alexandru Malaescu (Kingston University, London)
Uhoud Kamal (German Jordanian University, Amman)
Samar Dudin (Ruwwad, Amman)
Ruwwad’s volunteers and youth.

Community partner: Ruwwad | رواد التنمية


Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East

Academic partner: German Jordanian University

Arini | 9 Albadee’ St. Amman, Jordan
P.O. BOX 753 Amman 11831 Jordan

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