Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2014-2016 Cycle (Shortlisted Project # 4): Royal Academy for Nature Conservation – Ajloun Forest Reserve, Jordan

His Highness the Aga Khan addressing the audience at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) 1989 ceremony. AKDN / Gary Otte
His Highness the Aga Khan addressing the audience at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) 1989 ceremony.
AKDN / Gary Otte

“…we can reflect on some of the Award’s lessons of the last twelve years. Three strong “themes of concern” have emerged:

 

First: protection, restoration and skillful re-use of the heritage of the past, at a time when that heritage the anchor of our identity and a source of our inspiration, is being threatened with destruction, by war and environmental degradation or by the inexorable demographic and economic pressures of exploding urban growth.

 

Second: addressing the pressing needs for social development and community buildings in a Muslim world all too beset by mass poverty.

 

Third: identifying contemporary architectural expression of quality, the best efforts at capturing the opportunities of the present and defining our dreams for tomorrow.

 

“These three themes of concern having been defined, in the first twelve years of the Award’s life, many are those who will ask what remains to be done? Where does the Award perceive to be the greatest need and use of its years of accumulated knowledge and its enquiring curiosity?”

 

Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Royal Academy for Nature Conservation – Ajloun Forest Reserve, Jordan

Royal Academy for Nature Conservation in Ajloun Forest Reserve of Jordan is “the first centre in the Arab world” specialised in offering training on nature conservation.

An abandoned quarry serves as catalyst for an imaginative intervention providing educational programmes and visitor facilities.

The project for an Academy was originally proposed to be on a site inside a nature conservancy reserve, but the architect convinced the client to use an adjacent abandoned quarry which is outside the reserve.

The basic philosophy was that the building would use the parts of nature which have been injured in the past, instead of adding a new intervention on virgin land.

Encompassing an academy that provides educational programmes on environment and features a high-end restaurant and craft, the Academy follows a quarry cliff cut-line, creating a linear addition of constructed stone to the bedrock.

Arrival is via a stone bridge spanning 30 metres and the longest in Jordan to the mid-point between the restaurant and the Academy.

The massive southern facade consists of very small windows with giant vertical blade-like stone cracks shearing into zero width.

Corridors are defined by a crack in the ceiling that lets natural sunlight in.

On the opposite side, the Academy touches the forest.

The project illustrates how to use abandoned quarries that are found in the surrounding mountains in large numbers of 100 or more.

Project Video

An abandoned quarry serves as catalyst for an imaginative intervention providing educational programmes and visitor facilities.

 

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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali

 

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