Tal Al Rumman, Jordan
The site is located high in the Rumman valley in Jerash close to the Balqa border. The area is approximately 10.5 hectares and it is one of two conjoined sites, which have a combined area of 21.5 hectares. It is accessed via a regional road which defines its western boundary. From there, the site climbs steadily towards a large pine forest that thins out and spills onto the site creating a shaded canopy along the Eastern boundary. The terrain of the site is characterised by large boulders and small shrubs interspersed with olive, pine, and fig trees. There is a small one storey building in the South Western corner which is used by the resident farmer and occasionally accommodates visitors. The site is long and thin, approximately 54x190m. It climbs a total of 20 meters although the elevation feels greater as the land continues to climb into the forest. The wind sweeps up the hill from one corner to the other from a North Westerly direction.
The location of the house is set towards the Eastern edge of the site close to the pine trees where it benefits from wide open views of adjoining landscape to the South and the distant Zarqa valley to the West. The accommodation is split up in two clusters of buildings, arranged around a terrace, whose orientation responds to the topography. Their forms, the composition of openings and the material with which they are constructed - rough cast concrete - reference the rocky outcroppings of the immediate landscape.
To the North three pavilion-like bedrooms face different parts of the site, the master which faces the forest has rooftop sleeping. Narrow spaces between the bedrooms join up to form a private courtyard and protect the interiors from the afternoon sun. The main living and entertaining spaces are provided in two loftier structures, organised over two levels with a shared roof. The lower level is accessed directly from the land to the West where the client will park within the volume of the house. From there several possible routes take you up, through the building to a partially shaded terrace and swimming pool to the East. This space, between the buildings and the trees, provides comfortable places to sit at different times of the day and at different times of the year depending on the temperature, sun angle and the wind.
The construction is simple and expedient like the buildings of nearby villages, which are predominantly concrete and blockwork. Here aerated blockwork forms a layer of permanent shuttering on the inside while the external, loadbearing structure is a monolithic shell of in situ cast concrete. Horizontal board marks left by standard 10cm softwood planks reflect the geological strata of nearby rock formations. Exposing the mass of the building to the outside slows the rate at which the building heats up and helps to regulate diurnal fluctuations in temperature. The aerated blocks provide comfort in winter and increase the depth of the facade allowing windows to be deeply set within the wall. West facing windows have the addition of external blinds. The orientation and volume of the spaces inside and the location of opening vents take advantage of the prevailing wind to provide natural ventilation.
Bedroom walls are rendered in shades of venetian plaster and pale terrazzo tiles cover the floors, bringing softness to the interiors in colours borrowed from the surroundings. The atmosphere of the main building is rustic; walls of rough textured render, large slabs of stone, oak frames and linen curtains are put together simply, echoing the directness of the board marked facades. Floors of dark Karaki stone are framed with lighter borders that spill out onto the terrace, where they are given a fine bush hammered finish, keeping them cool under foot. The pool is lined in the same dark stone helping maintain a comfortable swimming temperature and enhancing the mirror-like quality of the water's surface.