Misahat El 7ay, Jordan

Masahit Alhayy مساحة الحي works towards providing inclusive, engaging, and self-sustaining public space aiming at creating a positive impact in the community.

Sara Nowar is a social architect, community developer, and urban researcher who strongly believes in design and planning that cater to human needs and contribute to improving the quality of life. Sara holds a master’s degree in urban development from Technical University of Berlin, a professional diploma in social work and refugee studies, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture. She has worked and engaged in multiple projects, workshops, and research projects in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Germany. Sara is a member of Placemaking MENA platform, and she is currently working on creating inclusive, engaging, and self-sustaining public spaces in Jordan. Her interests lie within the fields of refugees and the city, community development, participatory design and planning, and placemaking

The culture of public space in Jordan is facing immense challenges and hardships in all sorts of dimensions, some of those challenges are quantitative, while others are very much qualitative. According to the WHO (2010) cities should provide a minimum of 9 m2 of urban green public space per capita, and it is not just about the quantity of the space but the quality as well, as this space should be accessible, safe, and functional. Jordan is very far from this standard, the green space per capita in the capital city, Amman is 2.5 m2 (Bazian, 2019), not to mention that a big number of those public open spaces are in dire need of maintenance and activation. Despite the lack of similar data for other cities in the country, it can be assumed that the open green public space per capita is less than 2 m2 since most development projects and attention is directed towards Amman.

When investigating existing public spaces, parks, and playgrounds in the country -based on field visits in Amman and Zarqa- it has been realized that there are various root causes to the weak culture of public spaces in general that leads to inactive, unsafe, and vandalized public spaces[1]. Those can be summarized into the following points:

  1. The existing public spaces are not inclusive of all ages. The majority of them provide facilities and functions targeting children and disregarding youth, adults, and seniors.
  2. The lack of ownership and sense of belonging towards those spaces, which leads to a lack of sense of responsibility. Residents often feel detached from the public spaces in their area -if they exist- therefore, they often end up vandalized and in bad condition.
  3. Existing public spaces are conventional and traditional in terms of function and design, where they could be stimulating and, in a way, educational, adding value and importance to space.

[1] Public spaces in this concept note refers to public playground and public parks

Masahit Al-Hayy (Arabic for the neighborhood space مساحة الحي) aims at creating inclusive, engaging, and self-sustaining[SN1]  public space in Russeifa while focusing at generating a positive impact in the community. Creating public space with the people to the people through employing the participatory approach in all phases; starting from the needs assessment phase to the design, the construction, and the handover phases. The project takes place in Russeifa at the premises of Recycling for Education NGO, as their small humble office is located on around 7860 m2 land plot that is registered as a park/ open space in the binding plans of the Russeifa municipality. The project intends at collaborating with the NGO through upcycling and reusing materials to create the space that the community needs. Through this approach, the sense of awareness is being raised amongst the community as well as the sustainability and low-cost factors are achieved.  

 [SN1]The vision is to have it self-sustained, but I don’t know if this will be achieved