Jordanian development agency hires architect for public square after seeing regeneration designs for Barnsley.
Will Alsop is to establish a presence in the Middle East after his practice was invited to draw up a masterplan for a public square in Amman, capital of Jordan.

Alsop and his team flew out to Amman last month at the invitation of the country’s national development agency. They made an initial presentation, which involved creating a public space in front of a newly built mosque.

The news comes two months after Building revealed that the architect intends to expand into China. It has plans for 100,000 m2 of office space around the Bund, a river in Shanghai, and for 20,000 m2 of office development in Beijing.

James Hulme, an associate at Alsop Architects, said that the invitation to pitch for the Amman contract was prompted by the Jordanian agency’s admiration for the work carried out by Alsop in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

He said: “The Jordanians became aware of what we were doing up in Barnsley through all the publicity it generated. They are interested in our emphasis on urban public space.”

Barnsley is the subject of a 30-year plan to reinvent the town as a compact sustainable community with public spaces.

The Jordanian development agency is understood to be interested in using public space regeneration as

a tool to nurture tourism in the capital. Alsop hopes that the initial contact will develop into a more permanent relationship in the Middle East.

The firm took a stall at the Cityscape exhibition in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last week to raise its profile in the region, but as yet it has no plans to bid for a large projects in the city.

Hulme also revealed that the practice intended to shift the focus of its European strategy from France and Germany to Italy and Spain.

Hulme said Alsop was working with the film company Squint/Opera to produce a cinematic vision of what the practice has in mind for the scheme in Amman.

Squint/Opera was commissioned last year by regeneration agency Yorkshire Forward to produce a series of films documenting the pilot phase of its urban renaissance programme.