Dutch Ambassy Amman, 2010 (not executed)

In a commission for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Barbara Broekman designed a courtyard for the Dutch Embassy in Amman, Jordan.
Apart from a broad set of practical demands (considering maintenance, vandalism and safety), the content of the design also had to meet the commissioners’ standard. The work should raise recognition of both the Netherlands and the guest country, play an active role in the direct surroundings and work as a conversation piece. For every assignment Barbara makes an in depth study of al parties and aspects involved: the commissioner, the user, the passer-by, the architecture, the material, the history and the social context. 

The investigation for this assignment led to the idea of a garden with mosaic. Gardens have always been important in the Islamic architectural and religious tradition: the Persian word ‘Pairidaeeza’ (Paradise) is a combination of words meaning ‘walled space’. Users of walled gardens withdraw to the beauty of the world within the fence, to enrich the mind and experience the humbleness of human existence on earth. Fountains, greenery, furniture and lush mosaics provide calmness, coolness and a sense of wellbeing.  

Barbara usually samples existing imagery in her work: from newspaper photos, well-known works from the art history, to private snapshots and scientific illustrations.  She weaves them into complex compositions - with each other and with textile patterns from cultures all over the world. For the design of the walled garden of the Dutch Embassy, Broekman mixed typical, almost cliché like Dutch scenes with abstract Arabic textile motives. Together, they look like a patchwork of squares, resembling a view on the Netherlands from above. To spare scarce water, trees replace the traditional fountains. 

Jordan has a rich tradition in applying natural stone for mosaics. The color schemes (cool grays for the Netherlands and warm reds for Jordan) are adapted to the fact that the material should be mined from the surrounding area.