Rasem Badran: An Arab Regional Architect
The renowned Jordanian architect, Rasem Badran (b.1945) is one of the few Arab architects whose passion for architectural national identity led him to successfully develop personal architectural views and concepts that spread throughout the Arab and developing world. Badran received his architectural training in Germany and in 1973, he established his own architectural office in Amman, Jordan.Throughout his career, Badran was searching intuitively for what he termed “the social, historical, economic and cultural aspects” of the Muslim world. Badran’s main concerns has been to develop architecture that truly satisfies the socio-economical and cultural requirements of the people, as well as responsive to the specificities of the built environment. However, in 1995, Badran was the recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Great Mosque of Riyadh and the Redevelopment of the Old City Centre as well as for his long and sincere commitment to the development of regional Arab and Islamic architecture.
Image credit: The Great Mosque of Riyadh (1992), Badran was inspired by the traditional architecture of Najd, Saudi Arabia.
Badran’s architectural production includes a distinctive buildings, projects, as well as urban planning and urban design. However, the core of Badran’s architecture is to incorporate the design concept of the Arab village into his work. His concept of creating contemporary Arab housing in harmony with the old Islamic tradition is clearly evident in his Abo Ghueillah Housing project (1979) in Amman. He clustered the houses of the Abo Ghueillah project and combined them into a comprehensive unit. Badran also used interconnecting streets and buildings as well as open and enclosed spaces. The idea of the neighborhood as the nucleus of the old Arab city was expressed in an independent form. While each individual unit has its own identity, it contributes to the whole. In fact, Badran’s planning concept touches on the very essence of Islamic culture.
Image credit: Amman City Hall, Jordan
Badran studied the history of Islamic and Arab architecture, but he did not perceive history as a source of physical forms to be copied or reinterpreted, but tried to adapt the actual processes that developed these forms and explore the social forces behind these traditional typologies. Badran’s Al-Talhouni residence, Amman, Jordan, shows the architect’s confidence in handling the traditional vocabulary in harmonious composition in his elevations. He also was capable of adjusting the orientation of each courtyard in order to permit maximum airflow and to exhibit the beauty of nature and the art of reflection by employing decorative fountains in the courtyard.
Image credit: Al-Talhouni residence, Amman, Jordan, by Rasem Badran
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2. James Steele, The Architecture of Rasem Badran: Narratives on People and Place. London, 2005.
3. Udo Kultermann, , Contemporary Arab Architects and their Contribution to the Renaissance of Architecture in the Arab States. Ekistics, v. 47, no. 280, January / February 1980, p. 43.
4. Udo Kultermann, Contemporary Architecture in Jordan. Mimar, no. 39, June 1991, p. 14.