Regional Centre for Conservation and Restoration (RCCR)
Client : UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services)
Location : Jerash, Jordan
Year : 2019
The Regional Centre
The Regional Centre for Conservation and Restoration in Jerash will constitute a significant training centre serving Jordan and the region, it will combine theory, technology, and practical experience in its training approach and would address conservation, restoration, protection, maintenance, and management of archaeological and heritage sites in addition to objects, works of art, and organic and inorganic artefacts throughout its scientific and conservation laboratories in addition to conservation works conducted in situ. In addition to the state of the art scientific and conservation laboratories, the Centre will host a library, multiple class rooms, an archives room, in addition to offices and a management section.
The Location & Building Significance
The Centre occupies a unique location in the Eastern part of the City nearby the ancient City Wall and the ruins of a Byzantine Church and overlooking the Western archaeological site of Jerash. The building itself from the early 1950s (subject to the adaptive reuse) used to function as a governmental building serving Jerash directorate of security, the Jerash Road Police, and Jerash’s Anti-Drugs Enforcement Agency. Architecturally, the building represents a particular typology (Modern Public) and enjoys architectural, historic, urban values contributing to a sense of place in this part of the City. This unique building typology is characterized by a subtle monumentality, the beginning of a post-beam skeletal structural system with its drop beams and concrete and stone load bearing walls, and a strong relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces. In addition, the building and its site (due to the proximity of the building to the ancient City Wall and the ruins of a Byzantine Church) could yield informational value regarding the ancient history of the City during Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.
Once the building and Site are adapted to serve as the Regional Centre for Conservation and Restoration in Jerash, this unique adaptive reuse opportunity will definitely have a very positive impact on the quality of capacity building and training in conservation and restoration works in Jordan and in the region at large. Furthermore, this adaptation will have a positive impact in terms of job creation in general, and also in terms of supporting the national and regional heritage conservation and management market with well-trained and educated individuals in such fields.
Design Approach & Philosophy
In brief, and at an architectural/adaptive reuse scale, the nature of the new interventions was based on respecting and abiding by heritage conservation charters and conventions, and is driven by: a) a respect of building significance & authenticity; b) understanding of the typology, and typo-morphology of the building, and how this understanding informs the nature of the intervention; c) and based on international heritage conservation conventions and charters, it is based on creating a designed distinction between the original fabric of the existing building, and new additions. The level of this distinction and the nature of it, depends on the adaptive reuse architect as will be explained next.
The new intervention creates a contract with the rough stone of the 1950s building, therefore, a contemporary, transparent, late slick-tech image has been chosen for the new additions (industrial metallic) which will create a contrast with the massive compositions and rough stones of the existing building. These new additions also fit the new function of the building where the nature of the adaptive reuse is linked with laboratories, conservation, technology, education and science. So, the main purpose of adaptive reuse is to actively manage change, where change is a natural and accepted transformation of these places. The aim is to recognize and reinforce the historic significance of places while accommodating the changes necessary to ensure their continued use and enjoyment.