ARD 532 is a renovation project of a semi-attached house built in the 1980s in Amman.
Unlike new projects on empty plots where the architect starts with a bare canvas, renovation dictates its own set of rules and requires a different set of skills. Understanding the existing structure and layers added throughout years by different families is quite similar to exploring an archaeological site. Yet the main challenge was to re-design the house interior spaces to accommodate different lives of a different time.
The design approach started with de-cluttering the structure and stripping it down to essentials so as to create more openness and spatial interconnectivity. The house area was increased to accommodate the new program by utilizing the back-patio space which has become part of the interior and a connection point between ground and first floors.
Starting with dark interiors and windowless rooms, light was a key player in different decisions. The intervention’s main focus was to transform the interior space through a smart introduction of openings that would invite natural light and fresh air in, and help in making the building a more sustainable, energy-efficient, and environment-conscious home. Sculpting the natural light was done through a strategic positioning of openings. The artificial lighting planning and design has also mimicked the way natural light illuminates the interior while accentuating different architectural elements.
Treatment of external façades is quite simple and conservative to the original design of the house. The intervention was limited to the old plaster walls which are now cladded with black basalt stone in addition to the back-patio space added. And old windows have been replaced with black-tinted double-glazed windows that camouflage with the black basalt mass and stripes.
The design rethinks the use of standard facade finishing material in Amman; i.e. stone and combines the existing white stone with black basalt for exterior cladding. The visual impact of this simple tweak is powerful and makes the building stand out with minimum effort and insignificant cost impact. The play of color, and shade and shadow patterns, result in an abstract mass, a sculpture-like habitat that is in stark contrast with the “business-as-usual” architecture of its immediate context.