Extension of the chancillery of the spanish embassy in Amman

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How can we integrate local tradition in a modern building?

In  2008 we participated in the competition for  the extension of the chancillery of the spanish embassy in Amman

The team was composed by myself, Loredana Modugno, Horacio Fernandez del Castillo and my good firend Enrique Prieto Catalán, who by then was “Actual Architecture” and if I am not mistaken is at present day in Shangai with Wena, probably turning China upsidedown. Hi Enrique!

Well, a chancillery presents a very stern programme, and the one in Amman came along with a very sensible situation, both in terms of urban integration and security requirements. We wanted to create an architecture that would suit its environment. It also had to provide a representative image to the embassy and yet be comfortable for its users. The main questions we addressed ourselves while preparing the proposal for the competition:

How can we integrate local tradition in a modern building?

How do we achieve comfort for the under in these harsh climate conditions? And hey, comfort for me is not a A.C system going full steam.

How to provide a government’s embassy with an iconic image that talks about the common roots of two cultures that have grown together.

How to turn an efficient distribution into an architecture of quality.


We wanted for the building a clear image and a clear distribution. The new body of the chancillery was designed as a clear rectangular piece wrapped by a lattice or “mashrabiya” made out of pre-fab white concrete panels.

This mashrabiya becomes the main visual element of the building and works as a solar and visual filter. We wanted the inside spaces to be flooded with sieved light. This light comes from both the façade and the open galleries to the central courtyard, with its great skylights. We had then very well lit spaces through natural means, saving on the electric bill.

In the souththern elevation the mashrabiya overhangs to create an exterior atrium that takes the whole height of the building and becomes the main representative entrance.

The central courtyard is the heart of the diplomatic life and structures the administrative offices in several floors. Around this space the galleries at each level connect the different departments, with the vertical communication chores at each side.

It is a simple but clear and effective architecture. As Aikido master Cognard Hanshi always stresses: Please,  guys: Efficency, Aesthetics, Ethics.


it was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the roman empire. With the air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn’t hear the barbarians coming” Garrison Keillor

The buildings’s double ventilated façade acts a passive solar blind on the south wall and roof. It controls the contribution of solar radiation and saves air conditioning and heating. It also avoids the effect of cold wall, summer overheating, misting and reflexes.

Orientation becomes the base for the distribution of the programme. Also, a very effective form factor and the promotion of cross ventilation in indoor spaces allow for the ellimination of AC in the intermediate seasons.

The solar installation (on access to parking) for hot water is to cover part of the energy needs of the heating system.

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