Development of Tourism Activity in Dibeen Forest Reserve

Client : Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN)

Location : Dibeen, Amman- Jordan

Joint Venture : ROOTS (Consulting Engineers)

Year : 2014

Methodology

  • Context Understanding & the Development of a Strong Knowledge Base about the Site

Our approach rests primarily on understanding the context we are dealing with from two points of departure as mentioned earlier:

- Physical:  Site conditions, Slope, Climate, Water, Natural layer through the fauna and flora, geological layer, character and nature of the built environment, other.

- Social:  Local community living around the site, Local knowledge, other.

The objective of the Project is equipping the site of Dibeen Nature Reserve aims at establishing a unique & environmentally-responsive tourist destination at Dibeen for picnicking and strolling by rehabilitating the existing site in a way achieving nature conservation, awareness building about environmental issues, and educational eco-tourism.

In addition to extensive site research, analysis, and documentation; we will consult with published works, research journal articles, in addition to other sources that mention each of the sites at question.  Our analysis will include understanding the various communities around each of the sites, their social practices, approaches to nature conservation, in addition to the nature and characteristics to their local heritage (e.g., Architecture, other). 

  • The Use of Holistic Approach to Green and Environmental Design:  Maximizing the Use of Passive Design

In all of our projects, we think seriously about concepts of sustainability where we link concepts of sustainability and humanity and issues of ecological architecture.   Our approach centers on efficiency in everyday practice and a unique built landscape aesthetics were appearance is shaped by ideas of ecological performance and the built environment is intelligently integrated into the landscape.  This will proof to be very effective in the future, and specially in terms of energy efficiency. 

The building design adopts a holistic and all-inclusive system that incorporates occupants as participants in energy and water efficient everyday practices.  This includes the maximizing of the use of passive design for conserving energy and water in buildings and the site as a whole.  Furthermore, our approach to building design also addresses the incorporation of various systems such as solar thermal water heating collectors, grey water reuse water systems (When applicable), and xeriscaping (Water conserving landscapes) methods and approaches (If applicable).

The starting point was to maximize the use of passive design for conserving energy and water in buildings and the site as a whole. At building and site scales, several issues will be taken into consideration such as:

- Building Orientation.

- Sizing and design of window units corresponding to each façade.

- Construction method, materials and insulation treatments.

- Working with Building Systems to achieve desired sustainable building performance (Solar thermal water heating collectors, Grey-water Reuse System, Landscaping (xeriscaping), Proper lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling systems).

  • Consulting Relevant Case Studies

Review of Similar Case Studies of similar projects (e.g., Visitor Centers mainly in protected areas and outdoor parks and recreation spaces) in terms of function, issues of environmental sustainability and green design, xeriscaping, and other issues would be conducted prior to design.

  • Incorporate Local Knowledge and Understanding Stakeholders Needs

Part of the design process is critically attempting to research and understand the various local knowledge(s) concerning the natural layer of the site, local communities’ approaches to building (Building traditions), and also to dealing with the nature around them.  The design will also take into consideration how the facility would be used by various stakeholders by analyzing their needs. Stakeholders include RSCN staff and personnel, local community around the site using the building, visitors and tourists, nature lovers interested to know more about these protected areas, other. 

Dibeen is frequented by many local Jordanian picnickers for purposes of entertainment and enjoyment mainly in the spring and summer times.  So far, the use of the area had been very conventional which includes picnicking, strolling, barbequing, and maybe some light sports.

The current site does not satisfy all the expected needed activities by the visitors and picnickers, in addition, the current facilities are outdated and are in need of further replacement or rehabilitation and especially with increased visitation.  Furthermore, the area for strolling and picnicking is located in the largest assemblage of the endangered Aleppian Pine Trees, and the search for alternative picnicking sites and also the need to implement nature conservation approaches is becoming crucial.

  • Adopting a Supra-Disciplinary Approach to Design between the Various Experts

When adopting a holistic approach to sustainable design with an objective of conserving natural materials, energy and water and producing a harmonious product that interacts with the surrounding natural and building environments; the team working on the Project (architects, environmentalists, mechanical engineers, landscape architects, other) should work together right from the beginning on finding creative solutions.  It if not productive at all if the architects started conceptualizing about the Project without the other important experts that needs to part of the design process right from the beginning.

  • Understand and Implement Proper Site Design and Management Approaches

The Project should attempt to present a key demonstrational example while providing local opportunities for investment and job creation.  A proper Site Planning approach which addresses several crucial issues:

- Understanding the natural and cultural assets of the Site.

- Understanding the needed functions and activities:  e.g., interpretive trails, strolling, picnicking areas, sports, eco-tourism, environmentally-responsive children play zone, other.

- Achieve high environmental responses in site planning and design.  This includes not only buildings and facilities but also the various incorporated trails within the study area.

- Identifying new picnicking and strolling areas.

  • Accommodate several many supportive facilities including ticket office, management office, storage facilities, fencing, parking spaces, public utilities, park police point, commercial stalls, and kiosks, horse stables, other.

- The site planning approach and the site design should also accommodate possibilities of eco-tourism and educational tourism that creates awareness regarding key environmental issues in the reserve.  This could be achieved by the provision of interpretive trails, signs, and also through the suggestion of various activities and programs.

 

  • Interpretation, Presentation, and Display of information about the Nature Reserve and its Wilde Life Rehabilitation Program to the Public

The site planning, design, and management needed for this Project should take into considerations that the Site as a whole should also provide the possibility to explain about the attributes and significance of this particular Nature Reserve and its programs to the general public.  This could take the form of various interpretation methods and tools such as interpretation panels, dioramas, virtual screens, interpretive trails, and the likes. 

Establishing a strong knowledge base on interpretation and presentation of nature reserves and protected areas is important to equip the designer, and right from the conceptual phases of the projects with the right approach and milieu.