Civil Architecture, founded by Ali Karimi MArch ’16 and Hamed Bukhamseen MAUD ’15, partnered with Studiolibani, founded by Dima Rachid MLA ’15 and Leah Moukarzel AALU ’12, to contribute an installation for Amman Design Week 2019’s Ras El Ain Gallery Plaza, under this year’s theme of ‘Possibilities’ curated by Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop. The installation was a week-long public park occupying a 720 square meter (7750sq ft) plaza in front of the main design space titled ‘Minor Paradises’. Previous iterations of the design plaza include Watermelon Installation by MIT SA+P Dean Hashim Sarkis.

Civil Architecture and studiolibani presented ‘Minor Paradises’, a series of provocations set against the Arab paradise and against colonial notions of green. Minor Paradises questions design in a time of drought and explores the notion of paradise in one of the most water scarce regions in the world. The Arab countries of the eastern Mediterranean refer to gardens as little paradises (jnaina): bounded boxes of green- delicate curation of plants in an ordered composition. Across the Arabian peninsula, on the coast of the Gulf, they are referred to as hadayiq, from the word‚ ‘to bound or encircle‘. In this context the garden as bounded space of green was rare until the mid-20th century. Traditional courtyards were often barren – reserved for laundry, livestock and cooking. Greenery as an interior fantasy was reserved only for those who could afford the luxury of water that was spent on beauty or cultivation. Today the Gulf landscape is an inherited fantasy: the well mowed lawn, the verdant setback – notions of care or fecundity that‘re borrowed colonial fictions.

Minor Paradises revisits the traditional notion of the courtyard and the picturesque Jordanian landscape, and samples scenarios from the territorial scale re-interpreting it as a miniature landscape at human scale. Locally-sourced sands, gravel, volcanic rock, and limestone re-create the landscape and curate the visitor’s experience towards the Hangar. Mounds of earth material pushed beyond its limits (angle of repose) form artificial geometries of varying heights and sizes, concealing and revealing views of this constructed landscape. Local adapted species of extreme drought tolerance appear as clusters negotiating a new, water-less aesthetic. The garden therefore suggests alternative notions of care, maintenance and beauty.

As an exercise in managing scarcity, the construction of the one week public park was made possible through the ‘loaning’ of sand, gravel and indigenous plants from local contractors and nurseries. The benches will be donated to a nearby skate-park at the end of the Amman Design Week.

Civil Architecture is a cultural practice preoccupied with the making of buildings and books about them. The work of Civil asks what it means to produce architecture in a decidedly un-civil time, presenting a new civic character for a global condition. Since its founding by Hamed Bukhamseen and Ali Karimi, the practice has attracted a strong following for their provocative works and their offer of an alternate future for a nascent Middle East.

studiolibani is an agency of landscape architects and urban strategists, invested in alternative thinking in landscape architecture and urbanism. In their work and design research, the founders, Dima Rachid and Leah Moukarzel, focus on shaping resilient environments and crafting spaces of social meaning and ecological and aesthetic value. studiolibani operates from Beirut, Lebanon, across scales, systems, and geographies.

Photos by Edmund Sumner : Minor Paradises, 2019 – Civil Architecture x studiolibani – The The Hangar Exhibition – Amman Design Week 2019 – Photo by Edmund Sumner
For the other photos: Minor Paradises by Civil Architecture x studiolibani – The Hangar Exhibition – Amman Design Week 2019

minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0000_minor-paradises-ADW-2019--05 minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0001_minor-paradises-ADW-2019--04 minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0002_minor-paradises-ADW-2019--02 minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0003_minor-paradises-ADW-2019--01 minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0004_Civil-Architecture-x-studiolibani---Edmund-Sumner-02 minor-paradises-ADW-2019--03_0005_Civil-Architecture-x-studiolibani---Edmund-Sumner-01