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July 4 2022 3:07 AM ˚
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The architect who helped shape heart of Amman

Architect, urban activist, and landscaper Bilal Hammad (Photo: Handout from Bilal Hammad)
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AMMAN — Architect, urban activist, and landscaper Bilal Hammad describes himself as a “Ammani in heart”, but he also had a significant role in shaping the heart of Amman’s urban landscape, having had a hand in the master planning of Ras Al Ain’s cultural strip and its landscape, the Greater Amman Municipality building, Al-Hussein Cultural Center, Princess Salma’s residence, the Jordan Kuwait Bank building in Al-Abdali, and over a hundred projects across Jordan and the region.اضافة اعلان

Manager and founder of Bilal Hammad Architects, Hammad says that although Amman is 100 years old, “it is extremely distinguished by its geography, and of course, people!”

Born in Nablus, Hammad spent the first 30 years of his life in the olden neighborhood of Jabal Amman, and had his office in the olden neighborhood of Jabal Llweibdeh, before moving into his new office in 2010, hence, he told Jordan News, he has developed over the years a special relationship with the city, which started on a small scale as a student, confined to his walking distance as he commuted to school, and expanded as he grew up to encompass the entire city. 

In an interview with Jordan News, Hammad expressed concern over the increasing numbers of personal cars, hoping that people and authorities would realize the importance of public transportation for building a healthier urban environment. 

Hammad is also dissatisfied with the new architecture scene in Amman, as, according to him, “housing building are ruining the built environment and the global phenomenon of new suburbs are dull and unattractive, missing the warmth and the intimacy of the city center, with narrow streets and adjacent buildings.”

Growing up, Hammad had always shown artistic interest in school, whether through designing posters or theatre decorations. 

Having no clients at the time, he designed for the sake of designing, he told Jordan News.

When he finished school in 1970, graphic design was not a popular major, and the advice he sought directed him towards architecture as a field that would “fulfill my desires and meet my aspirations,”

Later that year, he moved into Alexandria, Egypt, “a very special city with Mediterranean soul”, as he describes it, and enrolled in the school of architecture at Alexandria University.

In 1977, Hammad founded Bilal Hammad Architects, joined in 1981 by Nida’ Masannat, a leading design studio in the architectural scene of Jordan with over 40 years of professional experience, specializing in architecture, as well as interior, urban, landscape, and graphic design.

Since their founding, they have taken over residential, commercial, cultural, religious and hospitality projects, in addition to the rehabilitation and restoration of existing buildings.  A number of their projects have gained appreciation at both local and international levels, and have become subjects of research and analysis for both written publications and students of architecture.

Among those notable projects is Al Ribat residential compound, designed in 1979, which is still considered a pioneering experience in housing in the country, it offered a great module of a mini-neighborhood with adjacent buildings, interior courtyards, and pedestrian paths.

The project was nominated twice for the Aga Khan award.

In addition to his practice, Hammad is an educator and serves as a jury member for many architectural competitions, and as an external examiner at several schools of architecture in the region. 

“I always encourage students to simplify their work and to keep their feet on the ground, and direct them towards a minimal approach. I call it ‘Over Designing’.” says Hammad. 

Hammad has always been a man of multi-interests and a great passion for travel, arts, history, anthropology, and geography, he said.

“My friends often say that ‘the most entertaining part about Hammad’s architectural lectures, is that he never talks about architecture, he talks about cities, people, nature and everything!’” the architect added.

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