‘Behind the Wall’ takes JEA student award

The architectural project set its sights on tackling flooding in downtown Amman

Behind the Wall project
Nadeen Shiqem’s project, “Behind the Wall” is pictured in this rendering. The project aims to solve the problem of flooding in downtown Amman, while fighting the stigma those sent to juvenile detention can face. (Photo: Handout from the JEA)

AMMAN — The Jordanian Engineers Association hosted the JEA Student Architect Awards at the Jordan Museum on Saturday, awarding first prize to Nadeen Shiqem, from the German-JordanianUniversity (GJU), for her project “Behind the Wall.”اضافة اعلان

Chief of the Jordanian Engineers Association Ahmad Al-Zubi, the Chairman of the Architecture Division Board Ahmad Seyam, and the Director of the JEA Student Architect Awards Shadi Abdulsalam attended the ceremony.

Abdulsalam previously told Jordan News that the award aims create a fair and independent platform for local students.

The jury looks for projects that tackle local issues and provides an applicable solution for the space and city.

Out of 24 projects, 9 projects were shortlisted and presented at the ceremony.

Mohammad Al-Qubbaj from the Jordan University of Science and Technology took third place for his project “Eco Machine,” while Farah Al-Qawasmeh from the University of Jordan took second place for her project “Sweileh Community Farm.”

Behind the Wall: A juvenile rehabilitation center

Shiqem’s project, Behind the Wall, tackled the problem of correctional facilities and providing the right spaces and functions for troubled youth to complete juvenile reform at Ras Al-Ain in Amman.

“During my site analysis research, two main observations came into play; the lack of public spaces found in the area, and the site's history with rainwater that somehow seemed to be repeating itself,” Shiqem said in an interview with Jordan News.

Historically, the street on which the site is located was formerly a stream that collected runoff from the surrounding hills. Today, the stream still runs underground and collects the rainwater that floods Amman’s old downtown almost every winter.

However, with flooding common every winter, the need for a rainwater harvesting system became apparent, which in-turn led to the conceptual basis of this project.

“To create a center built on the basis of 'rehabilitation through rehabilitation' became the (project’s) objective,” Shiqem said.

A prison wall is often perceived as the physical barrier between juvenile delinquents and the public, so this was emphasized and turned into wall with ever-changing greenery.

The roof was turned into a water harvesting system supported by water collectors that act as the main structural foundation of the project, and finally, a public plaza was created as an extension of the neighboring Friday market.

The green wall would be painted by juveniles, and would succeed in transforming what was once seen as a barrier into the communicator.

Behind the Wall is a testament to the heart of Amman, erasing the social stigmatization placed on juveniles, while communicating to the public what is currently happening behind the wall.

“I’m very thankful for my supervisor, architect Thaer Quba for his continuous efforts, the JEA for giving us such an opportunity, architect Shadi Abdulsalam for directing and coordinating such a high standard competition, I am extremely honored!” Shiqem said.

Quba said that he believes that the project succeeded in creating a new typology that offers solutions for two major issues right now.

“What makes Nadeen’s project special, like many of the GJU students’, is her approach. The humanitarian approach works on providing real solutions to problems that face Jordanian society, where architecture is the tool and not the goal,” Quba told Jordan News.

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