Date of Contract

Built-up area:

40,000 m2

Arab Open University

The idea of “open university” intentionally signifies a different discourse of university education. This new discourse recognizes the new trends and modes of communication and information technology and the newly emerging sense of a culture that is based on image and mediation (e.g. satellites and internet) as compared to classical forms of cultures, which are based on direct interaction.

In the classical concept, a university is an educational system, the backbone of which is lecture halls. The backbone of an open university is its most expressive activity, which is the virtual library. It represents the new mode of communication where people can communicate in a placeless manner.

The entire site is proposed to be perceived as a controlled boundary with two types of voids: a central void, which should signify the forum image and a big gate through the site boundary to reveal the openness within.

The complex is proposed to be composed of three wings on three borders of the site, two of which, are academic; including lecture halls and faculty offices, and the other is administrative. In addition to these spines, the complex includes a central landmark, which is the virtual library, and important nodes/joints, which are the auditorium, the mosque and the cafeteria. The mosque, the library and the auditorium establish together what could be called the diagonal cultural spine of the complex or Student Building Axis. The central space of the complex is lowered than other parts of the building, which would provide a semi- open theatre around the central library. This would confirm the idea of the university as a forum.

Since this prototype design is meant to be repeated, with some re-adaptation, in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, the architectural language used is common in the 6 countries where natural indigenous stone provides a base for a simple stucco wall above with each locality using its own traditions for openings, parapets and other design motifs.

Masons from the 6 Arab states shall be invited to construct the stone walls in the traditional method these walls have been built for the past 600 years or more.