6-14 October 2017

Mapping Urban Experiences and Design

By Lena Kassicieh
On Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Urbanization poses both obstacles and opportunities for sustainable urban development and design. Data on human patterns of movement within cities helps designers, researchers, and policymakers better understand differences between urban and rural areas in terms of their impacts on the environment and susceptibility to variability and change. Each of these initiatives, tour experiences and designers focuses on various forms of mapping; surveying urban spaces, human movement, and transportation routes.

'Divided Congregation', a project by BRICKLAB – Jeddah-based studio that examines varied design disciplines and their intersections with social, political, economic and cultural networks – uses the lens of the urban landscape to comprehend the shifted role of mosques in the cities surrounding the Gulf. BRICKLAB designed an audio-visual mapping of mosques in an urban cartographic sculpture that narrates the transition of mosques from communal centers for both sacred and secular gatherings to their current function as solely places of worship. The project focuses on the four major quadrants of the city of Jeddah and attests to the current role of mosques as manifested in the urban fabric of the city, between community centers and mere reflections of their patron’s house in heaven.

IG: @_bricklab | brick-lab.com

Designers Ahmad Asem Al-Hiari and Yassin Al-Tubor worked together to develop a map for cycling in Amman. As the city is currently unfriendly for bicyclists, the designers stepped in to find a way to solve an urban challenge, allowing for safe spaces for cyclists to ride around the city as both a mode of transportation and form of exercise. The designers developed this project with data from Suhail Abusameed of the Zaatari Women’s Biking initiative, the Center for The Study of the Built Environment, and Cycling Jordan.

Following the development of her approach in the first iteration of “A Pattern Language” in Beirut, architect Grace Aaraj is leading a  multidisciplinary workshop to analyze the city of Amman, targeting the issue of pedestrianism. The participatory outcome of the workshop is a documented guide to better approach our city and – later on – affect it.

Nahla Tabbaa, a Community Programme Coordinator at Sharjah Art Foundation and Trail Presenter at Frying Pan Adventures, leads two tours during Amman Design Week that map out various elements of downtown Amman’s  ‘Shabsogh’ street. The first tour takes visitors on a slow-paced tour that encourages mindfulness, taking a closer look at urban pockets of plant life, urging participants to become more aware of the urban ecosystems that surround them. The second tour, Culinary and Social Aesthetics, maps the various industries that line the street, including silk screen paint, pigment shops, and an assortment of fabric shops. Each destination will be recommended by the stop before - allowing a map to form organically. Both immersive tours will culminate into a creative mapping exercise at the Duke’s Design Center, further up the road, for a cup of coffee and knafeh.

Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training and Environmental Research (CLUSTER) created a mapping initiative which features online platforms for resource sharing and includes frameworks for critical interventions and urban regeneration. In Cairo, CLUSTER's projects map and archive heritage sites, creative initiatives, and networks of passageways and rooftops as sites for potential development in downtown Cairo. In their presentation during Amman Design Week, CLUSTER presents their mapping initiative platforms and projects that map and archive the changing political and urban landscape in Cairo, and offer a preview of their collaborative mapping projects in Amman, done in collaboration with Studio-X Amman and Columbia University's Center for Spatial Research.