We've had a few more rainy days in Ramallah, and it's given us a chance to finalize our agreement with a contractor and follow up on a few more administrative items, namely:
- Prepare a preliminary wastewater study to figure out the best way to connect to the city's wastewater system, and coordinate a service extension request with the city. We still need a consent letter from the neighbor who's property we'll need to go through, as well as a route survey just to submit our application to the city. I'm sure I'll post more about this in coming days.
- Coordinate meetings with a graphic designer to help us with our marketing needs, including a new website design, a brochure, print ads (we're planning on a couple of newspaper advertisements in the coming months), a site / project sign design and possibly a billboard.
- Finalize arrangements with the subcontractors who will work on the interior finish of the site office, arranging for electricity, insulation and sheetrock, and office furniture.
- Preparing a project budget and schedule, as well as a few development scenarios to get an idea of our cash flow situation for the coming months.
- Interview contractors for the second phase of the development. Typical construction here takes place in two stages, the building frame (called 'adem, or "bones") that includes the reinforced concrete walls and the stone facade, and the finish-out (called tashteeb) that includes plumbing, electrical, interior walls, paint and wood framing, metal work, flooring and finally the kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
There's plenty to keep us busy, but I'm excited about getting the 'adem contractor signed up and getting the construction started. Weather forecast calls for a few more cloudy / rainy days up ahead but I'm hoping we'll start work on the foundations by the middle of next week.
In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few more photos of the diplomatic subdivision from the outside looking in, as seen from the west Ramallah neighborhood of Al Tireh. You can see the massive amounts of earthwork used to nestle the subdivision into the hillside:
|(diplomatic subdivision - click on image to enlarge)|
For someone who values the natural beauty of this place (and all other places as well), it's sad for me to see the land planners' apparent disregard for the topographic constraints they're working within and choosing not to design with nature. We're probably an even longer way from introducing biomimicry to the design industry.
I took the next set of photos last week on my trip to that subdivision, and I was struck by the size of the retaining walls looking out from one of the villas. These walls were probably 15 meters tall in some places (~50 feet) and we were told that the builders were asked not to fill behind them because the weight of the fill material would be too much to design support for, so instead they were using a reinforced concrete floor at a higher elevation along the wall, then only filling above that for the uphill villas. Here's a set of three photos that I crudely merged to try and give a sense of the scale:
|(retaining wall at diplomatic subdivision)|
As for our site photos, I have a couple from the blacksmith's visit to our site office to install a door and windows:
|(new office door and windows installed)|
|(the view from our future office)|
Speaking of views, I'll end with a sunset view from a hilltop a couple of minutes away from our project site: