Architect designs sustainable solutions to environmental issues

A photo of architect Hanna Salameh. (Photo: Handout from Hanna Salameh)
 AMMAN — Coming from a background of filmmaking, architect Hanna Salameh’s perspective on architecture is quite unique; he sees buildings as moving objects rather than fixed structures, he can see a person walking in and experiencing the project; moving from a small space to a bigger one, seeing light and circulation, just like a film.  اضافة اعلان

Ranked amongst the top 45 most influential architects in the Middle East in 2018 Middle East Architect magazine, Salameh believes that the biggest factor influencing his work is psychology.

“I believe that understanding psychology is the key to be a good architect, because architecture affects our mental and physical health, whether we are aware of it or not,” the architect told Jordan News in a recent interview.

Salameh’s interest in the arts developed at a fairly young age; as a child, he was involved in acting and directing and wanted to pursue it. It wasn’t until the ninth grade when his parents started designing their house and he was witnessed to all meetings with the architect designing their home that he fell in love with architecture.

It was a difficult choice, says Salameh, but he eventually chose to continue his education in architecture, because, unlike filmmaking, he needs a certificate to practice it.

Salameh got his bachelor’s degree from McGill University, Canada, in 2008, and his master’s degree from the same university in 2012.

In 2012, Salameh founded Hanna Salameh Design (HSD), an architecture firm focused on sustainable architecture. All of HSD’s projects, according to Salameh, are passively green and environmentally friendly, be it residential, cultural, healthcare, hospitality or commercial projects, which are implemented across the world, including in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the US.

HSD has won the competition to design the Royal Botanical Garden Oasis Project, as well as the competition to design the new headquarters for EDRAAK Queen Rania Foundation.

Additionally, the company has just recently finished “The Rockery”, the first net-zero-emission-bill house in Amman. The design saved up to 80 percent of its running cost using passive green methods by designing the masses to benefit from maximal shade in the summer and get maximum sun in winter. The remaining 20 percent is covered by photovoltaic cells, summing up to 100 percent saving on energy.

The entire project was achieved at a lower cost per square meter than the cost required for the construction of a typical villa in same area, and abolished the myth that green is expensive, Salameh said.

A very interesting aspect of HSD is their environmental, social and sustainable visions, proposing creative solutions to problems on bigger scales, the first among which was the “Jordan Gate Park,” proposed for the long suspended “Jordan Gate Towers” in Amman, near sixth circle. The proposal radically changes the purpose of the towers, and, five years later, still gets attention from the general public.

Meanwhile, Hijaz Railway Park, proposed in 2020, is an unsolicited initiative launched due to Amman’s lack of public parks, safe areas and an efficient transportation network. The initiative proposes utilizing the 20th-century existing railway and transforming it into a self-funding, large-scale project, using renewable energy and sustainable solutions, to help the community living in surrounding areas.

“I do believe that architecture is a public art, in a way, everyone is an architect, such problems are more of a public issue than architecture, and we purposely designed the vision videos to use simple language rather than a technical one, in order to reach out to the public rather than specialists,” Salameh noted.

In addition to architecture, Salameh still finds time for his other passions. He has founded FLO, an art line that bridges art and technology to create interactive and functional pieces; he plays the piano; and he tries to get involved every couple of years in direction, whether in film or in theatre.

Salameh also hosted a reality TV show two years ago with, on which he went around to people’s houses and assessed to which extent their homes are environment-friendly, and then helped them renovate the house to make greener.

The basic concept of the show was to serve as an awareness campaign for saving water and energy, according to Salameh.

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