Urban-Architectural development in Jabal Al-Sheikh – Aa’rne village

"We must encourage people to visit us so that we can see the reward of what we do with our hands in our own place". Urban-Architectural interventions to create an itinerary for a visitor to the village of Aa'rne.
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Designer(s) : Sewar Hamad and Mirey Ghanem

University : Damascus University

Tutor(s) : Iyas Shahin

The more countryside is rich, the more architectural investment can be attained. Notwithstanding the countryside has many components that can improve its living conditions, it still suffers from a lack of daily services. In addition to choosing Aa’rne village because of its strategic location, it was chosen to preserve the architectural identity of the Syrian countryside; which is largely threatened with disappearance; affected by the state of urbanization in the countryside. Also, as I belong to this village, I feel a moral and academic responsibility to work on an academic development project. Furthermore, the village possesses many natural components, like the Al-Aawaj river, Ain al-Fije spring, Ain-Issa spring, animal husbandry, and the cultivation of fruits within the agricultural area extending over the entire eastern side of the village. Moreover, It has many architectural features, like St.George’s Church, Ain-Issa restaurant (the village’s main canteen), and Raas al-Shurfa restaurant, which is linked by a path within agricultural lands that reaches popular sessions located on Al-Aawaj river’s banks.

Initially, a questionnaire was published for Aarne’s villagers to know their needs and the type of architectural and functional interventions appropriate for them. Secondly, the most important architectural and natural landmarks were linked to an axis that is the general development axis of the project, and it will form an itinerary for the village’s visitors. The village will be developed through the developmental axis with organic interventions within four separate lands that constitute four types of development:

  • Tourism development: an expansion of the popular sessions on Al-Aawaj river’s banks in plot No. 1.
  • Social-tourism development: a guesthouse near the church and the municipality building in plot No. 2
  • Agro-economic development: a joint food centre near the agricultural lands in plot No. 3
  • Economic development: a commercial zone consisting of land in two parts surrounding the development axis near the residential area in plot No. 4

Intervention #1: open sessions

It is located at the first access point of the main road coming from Damascus to the village. It consists of open public sessions distributed on Al-Aawaj river’s banks and surrounded by a service building as an inclined arc. This building continues spatially by backfill to confine the space in a circular way that forms a lock for the beginning of the developmental axis.

In the rest of the settlements, the buildings will be dealt with the semi-buried architecture principle, so that the built-up part is small to fit with the urban fabric proportions module of the village.

Intervention #2: Guesthouse

A mini motel concept (Bed and Breakfast) that is scattered in villages. The concept lines were drawn parallel to the contour lines and the angle was resolved by a median circle.

Intervention #3: Food Center

A centre for the villagers’ collective work for agricultural products (jam, dairy products…). The configuration was handled like the previous intervention.

Intervention #4: Commercial zone

The land is semi-triangular, so the corners were resolved with major circles with tangents and diagonals to confine the commercial spaces within them. To preserve the view resulting from the inclination, the commercial spaces are semi-buried. As for the built-up part, it was confined only to the last terrace.

Then, the general developmental axis continues to end with Ain-Issa restaurant, and thus the journey of the visitors to Aa’rne village has ended.