In the heart of Jabal Amman overlooking the dense urban fabric of Amman's hilly terrain with on looking views of the ancient citadel of Jabal Al-Qal’a, sits the Ghrayib site. The plot houses the 80 year old Al Qassem House, a grade A- listed heritage building. The designed development of this plot is to include a 9,000 m² boutique hotel accommodating 40 hotel rooms and a variety of food and beverage outlets. This project received first prize in the Leisure & Tourism Future category at the prestigious Cityscape Global Award for Emerging Markets in 2013.
The main driving concept of the design is to narrate the architectural story of the city of Amman over time, celebrating the contrast between its rich history and its modern potential. The design approach strictly adheres to a set of principles that regard the historical significance and cultural context of the plot. The approach respects the local skyline, scale and architectural characteristics of the setting, as well as respects the social and cultural values of the area. The Boutique Hotel does not disrupt unique views at the site and prioritizes showcasing Al Qassem house with open spaces. The design intends to add a contemporary building that respects the architectural heritage of the area and to create a building that is sustainable in both construction and operation.
The hotel sits on a podium that holds the entire project together: it is designed to encompass three distinct and unique masses organized around a central plaza. First, the existing Al Qassem house is treated like a jewel and represents the valued heritage that celebrates a golden era of the city and is left virtually untouched as the entrance to the project. A modern structure sits adjacent to the old residence accommodating rooms and suites with views and balconies onto a plaza beneath and the city beyond. The third structure is introduced at the edge of the plot, borrowing from the surrounding local architecture, thus creating a lower urban boundary and houses more hotel rooms. The plaza between the structures serves as an open public space enhancing interaction between locals and visitors, embracing the place’s origin, culture and history.
The architectural solution adheres to the required design principles and is true to its context and to the local culture. The design suggests that the front of the plot serves as an urban edge, housing the commercial functions of the development to seamlessly connect it with other adjacent retail spaces. The rooms on the other hand, sit on higher grounds to allow for superior views out to the city, following the architectural manifesto for which Jabal Amman is popular.
The design proposed strives to maintain the small-medium scale of the adjacent architecture respecting the city’s existing urban fabric, merging its cultural and traditional values as well as furthering the image and memory of the place and its urban experience. The blend of activities will preserve and enhance the activities of the context creating that unique boutique experience of intimacy and locality.