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3 Arab architects worthy of being called sustainable builders

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Green is sort of a buzzword nowadays. People will say they are going green (like Zaha Hadid), but are they as good as their word? Usually not.

In the world of Middle Eastern architecture and engineering, rest assured that there are several who are fighting for green choices. Clients often see lots of green – dollar bills, that is. But the builders can bring environmental considerations to the forefront. Sustainable building is the way of the future, and they know it. Here are a carefully curated list  of 3 Arab architects or engineers who champion sustainability in their work, and who need recognition.

1. Raya Ani 

Raya ani, award winners, MEA, jumeriah beach hotel, 2014,  dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 19, 2014 (Photo by Danny Allison/ITP Images)Ms. Ani was born in Washington, D.C. but spent most of her life in Iraq near her family. She operates out of the studio she founded in 2012: RAW-NYC, based both in New York City and Dubai. For the Aspire Sports Complex in Doha, Qatar, her company won Leisure Project of the Year at the 2014 Middle East Architect Awards.

The arena is still under construction, but it will include two soccer fields, a private entertainment venue, sports store, café, and more. It’s an enclosed space, but it evokes the feeling of being outside, with its light-filtering roofs, stretches of lush green, and landscaping techniques to promote fresh air.

The aesthetics of the facility were inspired by the makeup of a tree – its interwoven branches being the main motif. In the desert heat, evaporative cooling will chill the indoor air, and the Solar Ivy on the exterior will conserve energy. More of Ms. Ani’s architectural genius can be found in plans for the Mesopotamian marshes of southern Iraq, which Green Prophet covered here, and for Bawadi Park in Dubai. To top it off, this savvy designer does more than just architecture. Visit her page to see all her fascinating projects.

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2. Kourosh Hajizadeh Kourosh Hajizadeh-architect-Middle East-sustainability

Named Architect of the Year at the Middle East Architect Awards in 2013, Mr. Hajizadeh proved his merit even further when he laid down plans for Jordan Tower.

As Principal Architect of Hajizadeh & Associates, he places much emphasis on sustainability, and the goal for Jordan Tower was to create the tallest green spot in Tehran – a city lacking in green spaces. High-rise construction is maximized land usage in urban centers – capital cities, especially.

This sky-high beauty will display what appear to be hanging gardens in interlocking cages suspended from the exterior. This design is remarkably similar to “The Terraces” set up for Beirut, except it provisions more greenery. Furthermore, mirrors will be placed on the building close to street level in order to multiply the green vision to passersby.

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3. Ammar Khammash Ammar Khammash-Middle East-sustainability-architect

This Jordanian superstar architect has improved his home country – with more projects than one. The repertoire of Khammash Architects includes Wild Jordan, a restaurant and market; Darat al Funun, an arts and cultural center; and, most notably, Feynan Eco Lodge, the unbeatable retreat in the Dana Biosphere Reserve (which I visited while travelling in Jordan!).

With degrees in architecture and ethnoarchaeology, Mr. Khammash is Jordan’s leader in designing or renovating spaces so that they include uber modern amenities and style but are historically relevant.

Environmental preservation is very important to him, as well; he advocates preserving the nature in and around which he works. Wild Jordan is nestled in the hills of Jabal Amman. Darat al Funun displays a restored archaeological site in its garden with pride. Feynan Eco Lodge uses the blazing desert sun for energy and refuses to antagonize the already limited water availability with aerators installed on faucets.

Mr. Khammash clearly knows how to make the best use of what he is given, and even to make those elements from the land and sky the star of his projects. He’s even done the same thing with his own home. He opted to live on the edge – literally. By building his home on a cliff overlooking Amman, he made use of what would be otherwise unused space and gets breathtaking views as a reward.

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Photos of Raya Ani and Kourosh Hajizadeh from Photo of Ammar Khammash from Photos of Aspire Sports Complex from Photo of Jordan Tower from Photos of Feynan EcoLodge from

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