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Makeover plan for Al Hamriya.

Muscat: A group of architecture students from the University of Arizona recently visited Oman and developed projects that could ultimately help revitalise Al Hamriya district.

Twelve students from the university, along with their professor Dr Mark Frederickson, recently spent two weeks in Oman exploring Al Hamriya, meeting its residents and coming up with plans to make the neighbourhood less congested, more family-friendly, less prone to flooding, and environmentally and economically sustainable.

"It was a really nice way of combining architecture, landscape and urban planning into a real life situation. In the past four years we learned a lot and think it's really nice to apply that knowledge now," said Weaam Al Abduallah, an Iraqi student from the University of Arizona.

The students collaborated with students from GUtech and SQU and engineers and planners from Muscat Municipality. Divided into five groups, they came up with tentative ideas for Al Hamriya's future, which they then presented to HE Sultan bin Hamdoon Al Harthi, Chairman of Muscat Municipality, a graduate of the University of Arizona.

"It's one of my favourite projects to date," said Dr Frederickson, who has taken students to work on projects in many countries, including Panama, Palestine, Mexico, and Lebanon. "One thing I try to get across to the students is that a good design usually is layered and bent and complicated. How does the idea work economically Did you create jobs Did you enhance land values Did you encourage meaningful social interaction Did you make streets safe for an Omani mom and her children "

Back in Arizona the students will continue their work on the Al Hamriya project and in a few months they will present a proposal to Muscat Municipality on how to improve the area.

In addition to spending time in Al Hamriya, the students also visited different sites around Muscat and places as far away as Manah so that they could learn about Omani architecture and city plans.

"Manah was probably one of the highlights for me because of the dense urban fabric, the really organic feel to the architecture there, and the rich connection to what seemed like a strong cultural, significant piece of architecture in the area," explained American student Levi Van Buggenum.

"Oman is a country that surprised me in a beautiful way. It's wanting to move forward but you still have a feel for the history," said US student Daniel Aros.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Oct 4, 2012
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