Awards: 4th Place Award from the Jordanian Engineers Association for Architectural Graduation Projects for the year 2021 | Top 100 Architecture Graduation Projects around the World in Tamayouz Award - 2021 | One of the 44 Finalists around the World from the Best Architectural Projects in 7th annual Inspireli Awards
Excerpt:‘The Hidden Heaven’ is an architecture thesis by Iyad Sawaftah from Faculty of Architecture and Design, University of Petra, that aims to uplift the human spirit by allowing visitors to fully experience the wide variety of natural wonders that abound in the Wadi Bin Hammad region, Jordan. This unique initiative promises a multisensory experience that reinvigorates the soul thanks to its broad array of natural assets and dedication to sustainable tourism.
Introduction: The Hidden Heaven is an inspirational journey that honours the breathtaking natural beauty that can be found in Al Karak, Jordan. This project, which is located in the Wadi Bin Hammad region, aims to uplift the human spirit by allowing visitors to fully experience the wide variety of natural wonders that abound in this gorgeous location. This unique initiative promises a multisensory experience that reinvigorates the soul thanks to its broad array of natural assets and dedication to sustainable tourism.
Additionally, it serves as a tool for education, shedding light on Wadi Bin Hammad’s complex topography and raising environmental consciousness among tourists as well as locals. This innovative project brilliantly mixes sustainability, education, and recreation while also making a strong effort to preserve the area’s historic context.
The Hidden Heaven project is a captivating endeavour situated amid the alluring Wadi Bin Hammad region, nestled in the rugged northwest of Al Kerak City, Jordan. The site, which is only accessible via a lonely eastern street that is waiting to be developed, is cut off from the busy major highways, enticing adventurous visitors to embark on the journey in 4×4 vehicles.
This extraordinary landscape unfolds in three distinct forms—cliffs, steep slopes, and gentle plains—each integral to shaping the project’s design and program. A tiny rest area, a winding route, a rustic wooden bridge, and a weathered staircase leading to an abandoned swimming pool with historical and natural charm are hidden within this untamed terrain.
A natural gem within Al Kerak City, Wadi Bin Hammad offers a rich tapestry of tourism experiences for a variety of interests. Waterfalls, torrents, and streams that gently flow into the well-known Dead Sea appeal for therapeutic tourism. Sedimentary rocks with an approximate age of 840,000 years will attract archaeologists. While eco-tourists can savour the beautiful ecology studded with palm trees, oleander trees, Tamarix, and Imperata, adventure tourism fans will find dedicated drop-off zones to slake their thirst for adrenaline. An unforgettable voyage through environment, history, adventure, and conservation is promised by this diverse tourist haven.
The fundamental idea of “finding the soul,“ which has its roots firmly planted in the spiritual and intellectual spheres, is the foundation of the design concept for ‘The Hidden Heaven’ project. It sets out on a transforming journey of self-discovery, introspection, and inner exploration, inviting guests to reflect on their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs to discover more about their true selves, purposes in life, and connections to the universe or a higher power.
This profoundly transforming journey through “finding the soul” is conceived into three distinct phases, each of which is specifically designed to lead visitors to a deep awakening. The first phase, “Mystery and Discovery”, challenges visitors to navigate the challenging terrain of the site, conquering challenges as they go. A tantalising glance at the end of the journey will encourage them to continue on to the following stage.
Visitors go on a sensory-rich voyage during the “Experiences and Struggles” phase, participating in events that prioritise one sense over another. It fosters a strong connection to the environment by reflecting on their search for the final puzzle piece in their lives.
The culmination in the “Affiliation” phase offers visitors a panoramic view of their journey, now perceived with newfound clarity. They come to understand that they are an essential component of the setting and feel a strong sense of strength and belonging, which reinforces both the central idea of “finding the soul” within oneself and the compelling setting of The Hidden Heaven.
To improve the tourist experience, ‘The Hidden Heaven’ project skillfully blends several elements. The natural heritage of the area is fully experienced by visitors in a large exhibition hall. While a café and restaurant provide culinary treats and leisure, interactive laboratories hold the attention of inquisitive minds.
A therapeutic platform beside the waterfall offers respite while an adrenaline centre offers heart-pounding experiences. Lodges with distinctive hanging accommodations invite guests to extend their stay, enveloped in the pristine grandeur of Wadi Bin Hammad’s captivating landscapes.
The project is driven by a broad range of goals that are intended to maximise the unrealized potential of the Wadi Bin Hammad region and improve the lives of both visitors and locals. Its main goal is to make the region a top tourism destination that will attract visitors from all over the world and exhibit Al Karak City’s natural and cultural resources.
By generating new job opportunities in the tourism industry, the project also aims to improve the socioeconomic status of the city. Beyond promoting economic empowerment, the institution provides a safe refuge for unwinding, enabling individuals to rejuvenate, let go of pent-up energy, and savour the tranquillity of the valley.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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