“Change is the only constant”.A witness, a monument ,a memento of belonging and otherness in the city of constantly mutating urbanity,among the temporarility of demolition re-construction and construction sites. A struggle to finding one’s concrete monument ;one’s proof of existence in a city built around sum of reactions. The cigarette factory was once a symbol of the industrial Amman and it’s modernity era a monument of modern Amman. Many still refer to the site; where the market is on now, as the old cigarette factory, or (Masna’a Al Dukhan).
The public discourse:
While the cigarette factory was demolished the 3-m high concrete boundary wall around it was kept to gate the emptiness inside, until construction of the Opera house starts.
For the Amman camp, the discussion which we all shared about the city is its temporal/permanent nature, the youngest of all three cities which had grown rapidly in the last half decade, by the events enforced upon it by the regions economical political conditions, calling for urgent solutions and creating a city, which is a sum of reactions.
Spaces, places, centers, peripheries are constantly shifting. Its public spaces its common are always subjected to displacement, gentrification and marginalization. Spaces that have failed her common, by the natural consequence of the acumination of the capital and neoliberal projects of power and money that are imported and forced on the city,
SITE 1: The Abdali Project, or as marketed the ‘New Downtown’ of Amman is an example of such high-end exclusive projects, which promises a better utopian life but in reality is a gated island of a privatized public space. Such projects are creating controlled and protected patches within the city and the privatization of what is left of the common spaces in Amman, (with new definitions of public/private) or a commoditized public space, where the common are no longer users but consumers in their city.
SITE 2: Another project is “Darat King Abdallah II” opera house; a huge ambitious project that was proposed in 2008 and commissioned to the star architect Zaha Hadid. Architecturally its an icon of power and money inserted in the modest landscape of Amman sitting on the periphery between East (the less privileged part of Amman) and West Amman (the more polished side of the city), as part of this other huge Utopian project to connect both sides.
The design proposed was to be built in Ras Al Ain ( or the head of the water spring) replacing the ‘The Tobacco Factory’ (or ‘Masna’ al-Dukhan’, Arabic: the Factory of Smoke), one of Amman’s old industrial landmarks which was demolished for that reason on July 2008.
The project like many others got suspended after the new economic conditions, and other issues in GAM “Greater Amman Municipality” and the empty lot stood still, hovering in the valley.
SITE 3: The third site which connects both is an informal accidental flee market in what used to be the ‘Abdali Bus terminal’ about 1km away from the posh New Abdali Downtown (site 1)
In an attempt to occupy the downtown of the city and transform the whole urban public scene into a business and tourism spectacles, several attempt in (2007/2009 ) of cleansing the city had taken place. Many of the main public transport hubs had been relocated to the peripheries of the city. One of them was the main Abdali Bus terminal which used to connect the country and beyond; Damascus and Baghdad once.
In 2012 the Abdali market was targeted next, GAM announced the relocation to Ras Al Ein on the empty lot of the canceled Opera House project. The cause as announced then was to build a new building for GAM, but later showed that the attempt is to use the location as a huge parking lot for visitors of the downtown area (old and new) .
Again the main reason was to eliminate such informal/chaotic image of the city, to cater for the elite that will be visiting the New Downtown and relocating them in a gated protected area where the buyers and sellers will be out of sight
We are hoping through our camp, and through highlighting all three sites to try and give the common a voice and to claim back their right to make and remake their city.