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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Art in Aqaba, Jordan by Symbiosis Design Limited

April 14th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

‘In creating film one has to know how to take flight with light and understand the nature of its nature; to become a shadow and converse with ambiguity touching it but never gripping it; to understand the concept of contrasting harmony and how opposites bow to each other and sometimes dance in no less capacity than utterly consumed and locked souls; to travel with raw sound, whispers and sometimes silence itself and meet enchantment yet sense the most silent scream to be the loudest; to adopt the gentle breeze and learn a lesson or two on the prolific powers of gentle sways; to know how to become absolutely drunk and utterly intoxicated on a good conversation; to be able to ride chaos and make good sense of it; to use ice cold that is actually hot and make it unarguably cool; to know men and women who wear their hearts on their faces; to converse with the aura of objects and discover the person within each; to erase the line between genius and insanity and discover how to inexhaustibly deconstruct and reconstruct souls and suspend time in between, …’ Khalid Nahhas.

Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts

  • Architects: Symbiosis Design Limited
  • Project: Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Art
  • Location: Aqaba, Jordan
  • Project team: Khalid Nahhas, Ramiz Ayoub, Faiha Katbi, Lina Asa’d, Dina Hadaddin, Onur Lambaz
  • Structural Engineer:Symbiosis Design ltd., Omega Consulting Off.

Exterior View

  • Electrical & Mechanical Engineer: Spectrum Mep Consulting Engineers Off.
  • Media/Audio/Visual Consulting Services: Sand Hill Media, Berkeley, CA
  • Acoustical Consultant: Newson Brown Acoustics LLC, Santa Monika, CA
  • Land Area: 20,200 sq. m
  • Built-up Area: 30,000 sq. m
  • Project year: 2008
  • 3D images: Courtesy of  s y m b i o s i s  designs ltd.
  • Client: Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (collaboration with The University of Sothern California school of Cinematic Arts and The royal Film Commission)
  • Program: Film School with 160 seat screening room, media Library, 2 large sound stages, set stage, equipment storage rooms, green room, camera lab, smart classrooms, animation lab, edit and audit suites, hovering Café’, administration building and staff residences, in addition to a luxurious 80 room Boutique Hotel

Red Sea Institute

The architecture of the school became an explorative and didactic ground-scape environment capturing deduced emulations of the layers that make up film.  The building simply stages different conditions that allow the student to understand a great measure of intangibles or often immeasurable notions, conditions that are best understood intuitively through experience.

Red Sea Institute

To claim the majority of the property to landscape, many functions were pushed to sub-grade levels, in turn, giving a non abrasive sculptural disposition of buildings above. The landscape theme is a minimalistic one and where pivotal oasis are introduced as sub-grade light wells, rocks from the Rum desert are staged as mystical elements and reflective pools capture sun rays and rare passing clouds above. Sharing the campus with the main RSICA complex a luxurious boutique concept hotel offering a unique experience about film and film making with a film museum connecting back to the film school, and state-of-the-art three screen public cinemas on the other side of the campus.

Red Sea Institute with Swimming Pool

“If the soul is a resonant summation of one’s intellect, emotions, all other stored-in-memory and active senses [touching, hearing, smelling, and visual, etc] then the Film school must be a Landscape for the Soul – A Didactic Building ground- Working with and expanding “emotional intuitive space”. It combines spaces that accommodate euphoric events yet many other corners that enhance the visceral and contemplative” Khalid Nahhas.

Roof View

Light as a matter

Different natural Light conditions, from washed out to intense, are staged in the buildings to allow students to entrench themselves in the nature of light; Light showers down on many areas and often in intense slices through sculptural skylights.

Interior View

Shadows as matter

Like light, shadows are enhanced as a matter in a variety of form; deep dark areas percolate both still and moving shadows while other forms cast vivid and textured ones, all of which tell silent but spirited stories.

Interior View

Dynamic Motion

The building forms descend into the ground and ascend out and over the ground creating paths and spaces in flux, roaming, and celebrating motion from different unconventional vantage points, like in a folly, to allow students to explore spatial paradigm shifts necessary to understanding and planning scenography.

Interior View

Sound as a matter

Deduced natural raw sounds of winds and breezes, of still water and the rain, of different footsteps, etc are captured through basic pipe channels from distant staged points to other secluded ones for students to appreciate sound matter.

Desiging View

Introspective domain

Many smaller areas fold inwardly unto themselves creating places of detachment in the form of dwelled-in niches necessary for students to silently explore their own minds – the introspective domain.  Imagination demands many walk-through rehearsals in the mind where reality can be stretched beyond the conventional and towards the magical.
“Creativity: a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. “ Arthur Koestler.


Exchange domain

Great Films are a byproduct of collaborative and synergetic team effort.  Most circulation spaces and open outdoor ones are articulated to become social and celebratory domains where conversations and exchange of ideas are not only welcomed but enhanced and promoted.

Skach Design


Like montage in filming, different spaces and building forms were juxtaposed as single layers; however the student can perceive different compositions from different points depending on their position in space.  Long visual axes inlayed with variety of compositional elements are staged as Forced Perspectives offering the students explorative grounds of visual montage.

Skach Design

Studio Tectonics

The entire campus building celebrates the studio building typology as an active production place, and as a generally raw building, by exposing most electrical and mechanical elements such as duct work and large lighting fixtures; as well as echoing tools and instruments of the profession such as speakers and hovering steel cat-walks.  The building will be a transparent technical blueprint to the students.


Film Making Chronology

The building facilities that entail preparatory and technical works in the pre-production, production and post-production chronology are laid out in plan in a clear sequence.  Not only students, but also visitors, will be able to clearly read the sequence of film making in actual plan, especially where some functions are exposed through transparency to circulation areas.


Site Plan


Ground Floor Plan

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Category: Educational Institute

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