The first issue of the Dongola Architecture Series, dedicated to the most iconic contemporary architects of Arab culture, dives into the transdisciplinary perspective of Jordanian architect, artist and anthropologist Ammar Khammash.
Notes on Formation is the first book in our Architecture Series, a platform to publish multi-layered readings of conversations with Arab architects working across the region's contemporary landscapes. Dongola's inquiry into architecture is rooted in the discipline's lack of discipline, in the way it generatively leaks into other fields as a true intersection of thought and practice. Architecture allows us to speak to the nature of our times, and in this case, the pertinence of our contemporary cultural production in expanding our world beyond current pessimism about the future.
For this series, we have engaged architects with distinct visions that translate into practices of radical sensitivities to their environments and their impacts on them. The Architecture Series is not an endorsement of style, but of methodology, affect and synchronicity with the world. These architects interrogate heritage, engage with labor and gender roles, develop economies, establish social systems and, perhaps most importantly, produce culturally specific knowledge.
Through our conversations with selected architects, we aim to uncover and publish intimate perspectives of life in the Arab region by drawing on their approaches to context-specific situations, processes, legacies, and materialities. It is not a book about architectural projects per se. There is no focus on finished buildings. Rather, there is an investigation of the ethics, politics, positioning, and decision-making processes of the people tasked to build the world we live in.
Ammar Khammash exemplifies our quest. His work in building, painting, sculpture and music, together with his social, geological and botanical research break and intersect with every possible disciplinary mold in favor of an ongoing momentum of production and dissemination of knowledge. His practice is an act of mutual formation, an ongoing collaboration between himself and nature, which is, in his regard, the only real architect. Notes on Formation is the product of several visits to the Khammash Architects offices in Amman, and numerous calls with Ammar after border-closings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than package the practice, this book aims to reveal associations, untangle connections, and trace wandering threads. In exploring these various processes of formation – material, intellectual, and otherwise – this book works to offer a reading of architecture that draws on experimentation, context sensitivity and cultural introspection as main foundations.
As Editor in Chief, Raafat Majzoub has conceptualized, and written the manuscript for the first issue of the Dongola Architecture Series (DAS), and is an integral part of the series's continued development. Majzoub is an architect, artist, writer, the director of The Khan: The Arab Association for Prototyping Cultural Practices, and previously was a lecturer in the Architecture and Design Department at the American University of Beirut. His work explores world-building through experiments in new pedagogy which are focused on the abandonment of the notion of one truth and the development of inclusive, collaborative teaching and learning methods. He is the co-founder of the Beirut-based The Outpost magazine, where he also published two literary supplements: The Perfumed Garden (novella) and L'Origine(s) du Monde (illustrated children's book with artist Joan Baz). His writing has been published in recto:verso, Perpetual Postponement, antiAtlas Journal, Contemporary Theatre Review, and Al-Akhbar newspaper. He has presented papers and artist lectures focused on worldbuilding and speculative fiction in the Beirut Art Center, École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
in Paris, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and Kaaitheater in Brussels.
Ammar Khammash (born 1960) is a renowned Jordanian architect, designer, artist and anthropologist whose work in building, painting, sculpture and music, together with his social, geological and botanical research break and intersect with every possible disciplinary mold in favor of an ongoing momentum of production and dissemination of knowledge. His practice is an act of mutual formation, an ongoing collaboration between himself and nature, which is, in his regard, the only real architect.
Ammar Khammash's transdisciplinary expertise have led him towards a distinct vision of territorially rooted innovation. His work includes everything from commercial projects, sustainable tourism, and restoration to cultural centers and landscape design. Khammash Architect's Royal Academy for Nature Conservation was short-listed for the 2017 Aga Khan Award in Architecture. He was also awarded the 2019 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.