East Wahdat Upgrade : Economically sustainable model of urban regeneration

East Wahdat Upgrade: Economically sustainable model of urban regeneration

From Haussmann’s Paris plan to Robert Moses’ Manhattan plan, we have been used to seeing fancy and idealistic urban regeneration plans that could bring new dynamic urban experience to a city.  Many of the debates on these plan focus on its social- political impact or issue of property right and ownership. Seldom do we see urban renewal plans really struggle on the issue of money which is about the efficiency of using the limited fund to maximize the benefit of the plan. However, almost most of the urban plans for Amman in the 20th century was about dealing with extreme poverty condition. Amman was greatly impacted by the influx of refugee since the second world war. The city was undergoing significant population boom and large scale of urban sprawl. The UN (United Nations) Refugee camps were built around the periphery of the city together with slums and temporary housing. Those informal settlement creates serious urban and social-political problem.world-bank-jordan-urban-development-project_page_69

In the 1970s, the World Bank as a sub-organization of the United Nation, was actively proposing various urban regeneration plan in different developing countries including Jordan.  These plans aim at providing decent living environment for those Palestinian refugee. Instead of proposing intermediate solutions just as what the UN refugee center do, the World Bank pledged for a sustainable long-term proposal in which the community could sustain and further evolve. Therefore, very different from urban renewal plan in other places. The plan started with infrastructural upgrade including sewage, fresh water system, roads and electricity. For the sake of lower cost, the system was placed with great respect to the natural landscape and original settlement patterns to minimize the cost.

multi-page-1_page_39
p.39 World Bank, 1980, Jordan Urban Renewal Project Report
multi-page-1_page_38
p.38 World Bank, 1980, Jordan Urban Renewal Project Report

Other than the board scale urban planning, the World Bank also suggested a prototypical housing scheme for the occupant to pick. The East Whadat Plan was carried out with very precise cost control as well as provisional plan for further regeneration. The report done by the World bank in 1980 has comprehensively listed out the research on the income groups, social status, literacy and origin of potential tenants in order to review the optimum cost of regeneration that they could afford. There are studies of the construction methods and material together with very precise prediction of upgrading and maintenance cost. There is also a complete manual for tenants to further add on and refurbish their houses for demographic changes and needs.

The cost of the whole refurbishment plan was partially loaned by the “First commitment loan” issued by Housing Bank in which the plot charges and land ownership cost would be covered. The construction cost was minimized by the design of the housing prototype and encouragement of self-built process.

Since the whole plan was led by the World Bank working jointly with a British architectural firm, the proposal was pushed beyond from a pure architectural plan to an economically sustainable model of urban regeneration. The World Bank has carefully calculated the cost and expected number of stakeholders of the plan as well as predicted the potential economic and demographic growth resulted from the plan. The World Bank granted a loan to the Jordanian government which held up 31% of the cost of the plan. Its concerns about the risk of having irrecoverable loans has created a model of urban regeneration in which the sustainability of plan is seriously considered.

“a sophisticated financial linkage of new and old projects, quick implementation, high-level integration of technical and social concerns, a strong programme of cost-recovery. In fact, the programme was successful and established the standard model of intervention for the following projects.”

Habitat, 1999, Informal Settlement Upgrading: The Demand for Capacity Building in Six Pilot Cities – Amman, Ankara, Caracas, Concepción, Ibadan and Nkayi, 334 p.

 

 

Reference:

Habitat, 1999, Informal Settlement Upgrading: The Demand for Capacity Building in Six Pilot Cities – Amman, Ankara, Caracas, Concepción, Ibadan and Nkayi, 334 p.

World Bank, 1980, Jordan Urban Renewal Project Report

Lesile, Joylon , 1992, Technical Review Summary 1989: East Wahdat Upgrading Program, Aga Khan Architecture Award. The Aga Khan Award for Archtitecture.

Hasan, Arif. 1989. Technical Review Summary 1989: East Wahdat Upgrading Program, Aga Khan Architecture Award. The Aga Khan Award for Archtitecture.

 

Architecture

2 Comments on “East Wahdat Upgrade : Economically sustainable model of urban regeneration

  1. It wouldn’t be completely accurate to say that Haussmann or Moses did not consider the economic aspect of their projects. In Space, Time and Architecture, Giedion explained in some detail how Haussmann (ab)used the credit system to finance his project, leading to his demise in bourgeois popularity (pp.765-767). Robert Stern et al also mentioned Moses’ “shady financial deals” of Moses in the essay “Two Power Brokers” (p.40). On the other hand, we also have figures like Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier both trying to prove economic viability of their urban visions through breakdown of costs. Without completely turning this study into a purely economic one, are there ways to track financial aspects of urban planning / architectural history of Amman starting from this upgrading project?

    • I do appreciate the calculations that have been made behind the Haussmann or Moses plan about the cost and efficiency. I just want to emphasize the East Whadat Project was carried out with very serious economic calculations and surely there was no room for any fanciness or pure-aesthetic ideas which somehow can be found in plan for Paris and New York.

      There was a loan system that finances the tenants to do stage-by-stage refurbishment so that it wouldnt create a huge burden at once. I will touch upon on this in another narratives

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.