The French Cultural Center (Institut Français)
Client : Institut Français.
Location : Jabal Lweibdeh, Amman - Jordan
Year : 2011- 2012
The objective of this project is to create an innovative and inspiring environment that is also efficient when it comes to concepts of adapting the existing resources (e.g., reuse of existing furniture, understand and make best use of qualities of space) into contemporary uses.
At identity and spatial levels
The main arching themes for the design are Francophone Culture and French Modernity, they are manifested in several phenomena all through the design.
Promoting a French Modernity in a Jordanian Public Sphere through the function of the Cafe / Library (Cafe / Bibliotique) and an active public life making best use of the wide side walk along Shari'a Street.
At the level of Infographics
The main arching theme is the City of Paris (Ville de Paris), and this is manifested through the tables, menu, paper plate mats, wall decorations, other.
At recycling & environmental levels
A detailed survey of existing furniture and fixtures that would be reused in the new project was made. The general flavor is to try to use as much as possible from the existing resources, thus reduce cost and present a firm environmental position. In addition, the two French Companies Saint Gobain & Lafarge collaborate strongly with the project.
At the level of urban and street art
In general, the design will address the sidewalk in terms of levels, tiling, and extension of space into the interior. The main purpose is to encourage street life through the sidewalk café and also urban furniture. Two accent walls will be addressed in terms of urban / street art and influenced by the themes at work on this project such as Francophone Culture, French Modernity, and City of Paris. One theme for a particular accent external wall (Garage) would be Parisian Public Spaces from different parts of Paris. The other perpendicular wall will host the name of French philosophers through the years.
At the level of Interior Furniture
The interior furnishes will also emerge from the major theme of French Modernity in terms of choice of type and nature of tables and chairs. In addition, the food counter would be influenced by a simple approach that is very Modern and where it is very possible to show case the various served delicacies.
Concept of open space of Modernity through spatial permeability of the Cafe / Library spaces and extension into the side walk (Flow of space)
Color theme is inspired from the colors of Modernity and development in Paris in the 1990s onward (Gray, Red, White and Blue)
Paper Plate Mats: these are disposable and each should feature selected buildings from Paris from different periods.
Parisian Public Spaces: Les Spaces Publique Parisian. Ile de la Cite. Boulevard Saint Martin. Boulevard des Italiens. Place de la Concorde. Place du Theatre Frangias. Avenue de ('Opera. Les Champs Elysees. Quai de Montebelle. Quartier Latin. Place de la Defense. Place Duaphine, Place des Vosges Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Le Rue du Commerce, Jardin de la Place Luis-Armstrong, Musee du Quai Branly.
Wall Drawings and Hangings: some fixed hangings could be dedicated to general views of the City, and also to road maps or other features of the City.
Rene Descartes. Voltaire. Jean-Jacques Rousseau/ Enlightenment: Augueste Comte, Ferdinand de Saussure/ Structuralism: Henri Bergson, Jean-Paul Sartre/ Existentialism: Maurice Merleau-Ponty/ Phenomenology: Simone de Beauvoir, Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jean-Frangois Lyotard/ Poststructuralism: Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou.
On Building Typology
Based on the Urban Heritage Study that was conducted for the city of Amman and was funded by the French Agency of Development (AFD); and also based on the typological analysis researched by Dr. Rami Daher of TURATH for the Architecture of the City; The building at hand belongs to the Amman Modern Public (1940-60) Tyr . This type is characterized by its free form, open spaces, and dynamism. In specific, the way the building meets with Paris Circle, and the way the addition was added which included the Shari'a Street Wing represent one aspect of that Modernity. In addition, the quasi-strip windows, the canopies and cantilevers, in addition to the use of the Clostra are also considered aspects of this Modernity.
On Narrative of Significance (Architectural Level)
The building is a rich example of Amman's architecture of Amman Modern Public, its various features that are very valuable contribute to this building type including the dynamic massing and volumes, use of canopies and cantilevers, and also use of hollow block concrete.
In addition, the building is valuable due to its commercial facade on Shari'a Street adding to the functional diversity of the area.
On Narrative of Significance (Urban Level and Functional Diversity)
Not only that the building is valuable due to its strategic location, fronting the Circle, and also located along side Shari'a Street, but; its great value is accredited to the way it meets the Circle (from an urban point of view). In addition, the urban pockets that are fronting Paris circle (vast setback and semi-public spaces in the form of the modern arcade) contribute to the urban values of the building and its associated places. Furthermore, the building wide sidewalk along Shari'a Street is a major urban space that has valuable potentials for future use as a vibrant public space. The building serves as a landmark within its local neighborhood.
On Narrative of Significance (Social, Cultural, and Collective Memory)
The Paris circle (formally known at Duwar al Hawooz in reference to the water tank that exited there in the 1950s and which was removed in 1969) is considered one of Amman's active social public spaces. In addition, the French Cultural Centre, which was established as early on as 1964 represents a main cultural hub in the area that had successfully become a local cultural institution due to its involvement in many of the City's cultural activities. Together, the Circle and the Centre represent a dynamic cultural duet that is inseparable.
Furthermore, the legacy of the Centre is strongly inscribed in the minds of the numerous Ammanis who were students there at a certain stage in their lives or had dealt with the building in one way or another. The Centre is part of Amman's cultural heritage and it contributes to the city's social and urban memory at collective but also individual levels.