Amman: the Gray City

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Amman is a beautiful city in its own right. Sure she has plenty of problems, but if you step back and squint a bit, it all looks pretty good. It’s in the details where Amman as a city falls short.

I’m going to ignore the blatant traffic problems, lack of efficient transportation, poor city layout and planning, poor sidewalk design, limited parking infrastructure, lack of control over signage pollution, poor waste management and lack of efficient water supply for the time being. (Can you tell that I used to work for and architectural and engineering firm that dealt with city planning?) My gripe at the moment has to do with the fact that if you’re going to build building with white stone, you should require that the exteriors be cleaned from time to time.

Amman is truly unique in that the majority of the buildings are constructed with a white stone façade. I personally prefer a bit of color, but there is a certain charm and Middle Eastern flair in the design style. The lack of color is hell for tourists or newcomers when it comes to finding their way around, but you get used to it after a while.

From a practical design standpoint, the white stone does wonders when it comes to reflecting the extremely harsh sunlight off of the buildings. From a maintenance standpoint, however, it really ends up being a mess, as there are no requirements or local precedence for maintaining a clean exterior. It doesn’t take long for the dust and pollution to muddy up a beautiful white façade, turning it to a grungy, streaky gray.

If the city developers want to continue to build using white stone construction, fine. I just wish the municipality would enforce some sort of system to maintain a clean appearance. Grungy, dirty buildings are just another of the mediocre oversights that keeps Amman from reaching its full potential.


Blogger Roba said...

Indeed. I love white stone myself, but some of the buildings look like they haven't been cleaned since they were built, streaked with rain water and dirty with pollution. It takes away all the beauty from stone, and makes the city look dirty. Terrible!

10/01/2006 6:13 PM  

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