Case Study - Rusaifah: Six Design Ecologies

Sustainable urban ecology

Rapid urbanization, or urban drift often results in unplanned urbanization. The influx of rural residents into urban areas, also known as rural flight, is caused by a myriad reasons that center on real or perceived economic opportunities and support services of urban environs. Urban immigration drivers are diverse, but social mobility and stabilty, cultural or community associations, healthcare resources, economic opportunity, and conflict refuge all can play a role. Rural areas are often dominated by agriculture and small trade-craft, and the economic challenges of family farming and ranching, or small business, in an era of large farms and larger businesses, can limit opportunity and individual economic sustainbility. The flight of young adults from rural areas has historically been the largest population segment of rural to urban migration. The projected resource impacts of climate change in the next decades, especially water resources, are expected to accelerate urbanization.

Urban-Think Tank and Columbia University's SLUM Lab explored the implementation of a sustainble urban ecology in Jordan. "Jordan's capital city, Amman, and its surrounding outgrowths, represent a microcosm of the issues that define rapid urbanization in today's world. One particular outgrowth, Rusaifah, presents a unique set of issues to understand and improve" (Urban-Think Tank).

"In the spring of 2010 a number of international architects, planners and activists came together on request of the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development to devise a spacial development strategy for the Amman-Rusaifah region. Over the course of about two weeks, the team conducted fieldwork, which consisted of historical research, focus meetings, interviews with community youth leaders and and surveys of local NGOs. They then combined these humanitarian considerations with architectural and ecological investigations of Rusaifah's neighborhoods (Urban-Think Tank).

"Based on their work, the film Rusaifah: Six Design Ecologies is a brief portrait of Rusaifah and the people who live and work there. It offers an on-the-ground look and behind-the-scenes glance at what, from the designers and activists' perspectives, are the six defining design ecologies of the city" (YouTube Link).

About the film: Eleven minutes. Produced by Urban-Think Tank, and Columbia University's SLUM Lab. Directed by Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner, and Daniel Schwartz. Filmed by Alfredo Brillembourg, Marielly Casanova, and Tomo Tsujita. Written by Daniel Schwartz and Greta Byrum. Music by The Sign of Thyme, from the album Zad (2007). Film used with permission.