Rula Yagh­mour The Jor­da­nian ar­chi­tect’s Kut­leh se­ries is a cut above

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Talent Radar - — WIL­LIAM BUCK­LEY

Wind­ing through the an­cient roads of Jor­dan’s cap­i­tal, there is a deep sense of peren­ni­al­ity. Wizened oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans sit on seats out­side store­fronts, watch­ing the world go by with “we’ve-seen-it-all” wis­dom. The streets con­trast am­biva­lently be­tween done-up and di­shev­elled, but with those aged foun­da­tions comes op­por­tu­nity. Based in Am­man, Yagh­mour Ar­chi­tects has worked on a num­ber of projects in the re­gion that pre­serve lo­cal his­tory while up­dat­ing it for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Its ren­o­va­tion of the his­toric Mu­rad Cas­tle and Solomon Pools in Beth­le­hem, for ex­am­ple, is both a feat of restora­tion and of ar­chi­tec­tural in­no­va­tion, pre­serv­ing the cas­tle and cre­at­ing a state-of-theart mu­seum to house the world’s largest ethno­graphic col­lec­tion of an­cient

Pales­tinian arte­facts. Lead de­signer, ar­chi­tect Rula Yagh­mour, is the daugh­ter of the firm’s founder Farouk. At their of­fice, she dis­cusses her projects while nav­i­gat­ing through the rooms of the firm’s im­pres­sive three story space, her pas­sion for de­sign em­a­nat­ing in­fec­tiously. With Jor­dan’s rich his­tory, and with an eco­nomic mar­ket that is still clas­si­fied as “emerg­ing,” the fig­u­ra­tive build­ing blocks for a bright fu­ture are ev­ery­where. In a lit­eral sense, those build­ing blocks – lo­cally quar­ried stone in the pale shades so syn­ony­mous with the coun­try’s cap­i­tal city also abound. “My hus­band works in stone and mar­ble,” ex­plains Rula, lean­ing ca­su­ally back against a book­case in a li­brary lined with them. “At his fac­tory there’s an area they call ‘the Grave­yard’ that houses tonnes of waste ma­te­rial. I al­ways said there’s life in this ma­te­rial, and they shouldn’t call it that.” In re­sponse, Rula cre­ated Kut­leh (‘mass’ in Ara­bic), a project that re­pur­poses this sur­plus. First cre­at­ing huge blocks by com­press­ing lay­ers of the wasted rock, Rula carves the blocks into use­able ob­jects like vases, light fix­tures and fur­ni­ture. The ob­jects have been ex­hib­ited at Am­man De­sign Week and Mi­lan’s Salone, and her vi­sion con­tin­ues to evolve. Al­though she laments she doesn’t have the re­sources to catal­yse largescale pro­duc­tion, she’s con­fi­dent the mes­sage will res­onate. “I would need a big fac­tory, so these will be much more spe­cialised pieces – more like art pieces,” She pauses and with a wide smile, she adds, “For now.”

1. AR­CHI­TECT RULA YAGH­MOUR, SIT­TING ON THE STEPS THAT LEAD TO HER FIRM’S GALLERY SPACE IN AM­MAN, JOR­DAN.2–5. OB­JECTS FROM YAGH­MOUR’S KUT­LEH SE­RIES, IN­CLUD­ING VASES AND TWO IKEA LIGHT FIX­TURE HACKS1

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