MMAN — The Royal Academy for Nature Conservation in Ajloun, some 70km northwest of Amman, has been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The project, which was selected by the Master Jury from amongst 348 projects nominated for the 13th award cycle (2014-2016), will be competing among 19 shortlisted projects, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The 19 shortlisted projects are now undergoing investigations by on-site reviewers — architects, conservation specialists or structural engineers themselves — who visit and evaluate each project firsthand. Their reports are the basis for the Master Jury’s selection of the eventual winners.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture it selects projects — from slum upgrading to high rise “green” buildings — that not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life.

The Royal Academy building design was based on the quarry cliff cut-line of an abandoned quarry from the 1990’s.

The massive front elevation celebrates the exposed cliff and creates a dramatic extension of the bedrock, the statement said.

Arrival to the building is through a 30-metre bridge which spans over the quarry gap and is “the longest masonry arch in Jordan”.

The academy, which is owned and operated by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, offers environmental educational programmes, and houses a restaurant and nature shops.

The project “was originally proposed to be on a site inside a nature conservancy reserve, but the architect convinced the client to use an adjacent abandoned quarry which is outside the reserve”, according to the award’s website.

“The basic philosophy was that the building would use the parts of nature which have been injured in the past, instead of adding a new intervention on virgin land.”

Among the projects shortlisted for the award are Zaha Hadid’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs in Lebanon, Jean Nouvel’s Doha Tower in Qatar, and King Fahad National Library in Riyadh by Gerber Architekten International.

The winners will be announced in autumn 2016.
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