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Architect dwells on ‘human side of architecture’

Eye on property
Bisher Zureikat interacts with students during an event at the German Jordanian Univeristy in 2018. (Photo: Bisher Zuraikat’s Facebook)
AMMAN — Architect Bisher Zureikat has never looked at architecture as solely physical, rather he was always interested in the human dimension of architecture as well.  اضافة اعلان

“Nothing gives me more pleasure after the unique friendships I build with my students and clients, than when a client comes back after 20 years to design a house for their children, or when a student I taught 25 years ago introduces me to others proudly as their teacher. It gives me a priceless satisfaction in what I do,” Zureikat told Jordan News, surrounded by his watercolor and ink paintings

Managing partner of OMB architects, consulting engineers & Interior designers and Industrial Professor at the German Jordanian University, Zureikat had an artistic talent since childhood, and spent his school years drawing his teachers.

Pursuing his dream, Zureikat moved into Egypt in 1973 to study architecture in Ain Shams University, where he was taught by “brilliant Egyptian architects,” as he describes them.

He got his master’s degree from Washington University in Saint Louis in 1983, where he was more exposed to the theoretical, philosophical, and conceptual side of architecture, he told Jordan News in a recent interview.

In 1980, Zureikat started working with the Royal Scientific Society (RSS) on a research in low cost housing, where he developed his patented building system “Prototype Number Five”, which was adopted for building 174 residential units by Housing & Urban Development Corporation, and was also built as staff accommodations for the Royal Court.

OMB architects and interior designers was established in 1953 by Zureikat father Jamil Salman Zureikat, and was registered at the Jordanian Engineers Association as the fourth engineering office in Jordan.

In 1992, the office was re-registered as Office for Modern Buildings (OMB) by Bisher and his sister Hana, who followed the footsteps of their father by incorporating the latest developments, technologies and trends, maintaining OMB a leading edge in the field, Zureikat said.

Later on, the interior design department thrived when Zureikat’s wife Manal Mazahreh joined and headed the interior design team.

“The most interesting and beautiful projects we worked on were the projects we worked on architecturally and interiorly at the same time,” Zureikat said.

One of the biggest projects OMB worked on was the new embassy building of the Kuwaiti embassy in Amman, located between fourth and fifth circles, after the company won the competition for its design and construction management.

According to Zureikat, one of the most important milestones in his career was being a member of the design team and the assistant commissioner general for technical affairs of the Jordan Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany.

The designated theme was “humankind, nature and technology.”

The pavilion’s design concept drew on Jordan’s archaeological treasures, represented as an archeological dig that reveals a big mosaic with collective artworks from school and university students, artists and well-known architects.

Five years later, Zureikat took part in the design Jordan’s Pavilion at Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, where the team’s interpretation of the theme “nature’s wisdom” was based on the Dead Sea as one of the marvels of nature in Jordan.

Titled “@ - 400”, the concept of the design was to take water from the Dead Sea, ship it to Japan and display it in a 9x4-meter pool inside a black box, allowing visitors to experience the floating features of the salty water, while surrounded with images of the Kingdom.

In parallel to his work in architecture, Zureikat was also engrossed in the academic world, working as a part-time design lecturer at the University of Jordan from 1984 to 1987, and then at the University of Petra, Inchbald School of Design in London, and since 2009 as an industrial professor at the German Jordanian University.

One of the biggest joys of teaching for Zureikat is students’ ability to “dream big and discuss theories, principles, and Ideals without the limitations of the real life.”

 “In my practice I build buildings, but in the university I build architects,” Zureikat said.