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The Hangar: From power plant to public cultural space

The Hangar, which once housed Amman’s electricity generators and now hosts art fairs and exhibitions, is pictured in this photo taken on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)
The Hangar, which once housed Amman’s electricity generators and now hosts art fairs and exhibitions, is pictured in this photo taken on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The adaptive reuse of Amman’s electricity hangar celebrates and redefines Amman’s modern heritage. The innovative space offers the city an example of how large edifices meant for industrial use can be turned into new urban hubs. A local architecture and urban design firm called TURATH orchestrated the redesign in partnership with the Greater Amman Municipality.اضافة اعلان

Built in the 1930s, in Ras Al-Ain, the hangar remains a landmark that narrates the story of the city’s electrification. The first national electrical company was founded in 1938. Afterwards, the hangar served as a power plant and housed generators.

The significance of the Hangar does not only lie in the electrification of the country, but also in the story of resistance it represents. In the 1920s, during the British Mandate, the first Trans-Jordanian council rejected an offer during what is now called the Rutenberg concession, to supply electricity to Trans-Jordan in exchange for access to the Yarmouk River. The situation led to riots and demonstrations in Amman and several other Jordanian cities in 1927.



The Hangar, which once housed Amman’s electricity generators and now hosts art fairs and exhibitions, is pictured in this photo taken on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)

Today, the Hanger represents an important milestone of Amman’s entrance into modernity. The new design of the Hangar is based on minimal interventions and spatial flexibility.

The original rectangular form of the building was kept and celebrated, making it possible for the main space to host a large number of people for events or even provide space for huge installations and art works.

The main façade of the Hangar is an added glass screen that made the front elevation completely transparent, providing visual connectivity between the interior, the plaza in front, and the whole urban context of the city.


The Hangar, which once housed Amman’s electricity generators and now hosts art fairs and exhibitions, is pictured in this photo taken on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)

The obvious distinctions between the original existing fabric of the building and the new additions are clear. Whereas the primal structural elements have maintained their original grey color, new structural elements have been added in different colors.

These minimal interventions emerged out of a deep understanding and sensitivity towards the typology of the building and respect for the authenticity of the structure. As you enter the building, the structure still reflects the space’s previous function — but with a new identity.

In addition to adapting the hangar, a new structure was built next to it: Ras Al-Ain. The gallery also used concrete to reflect the hangar’s construction and to celebrate its modern style. The design of the building is dynamic in form and harmonious with its context.


The Hangar, which once housed Amman’s electricity generators and now hosts art fairs and exhibitions, is pictured in this photo taken on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)

As opposed to the existing hangar, which has a simple basic form, the gallery has a dynamic composition, representing the clusters of cubic houses on the edge of the mountain and creating a sensual expression that moves from the clusters of the mountain, to the gallery building, and finally to the Hangar in the public plaza.

The project that renovated Amman’s electricity hangar and Ras Al-Ain Gallery won the Arab Architects Awards in 2018 for category focused on adapting historical buildings.

Many artistic and cultural events have found a home in the Hangar’s inclusive and vibrant public space over the years, such as exhibitions, events, and fairs. It has been the main exhibition space for Amman Design Week for three consecutive cycles and also hosted a yearly book fair.

Various large industrial structures are becoming vacant and suffering from negligence and deterioration. The importance of the Hanger is that it succeeded in transforming that building into a cultural destination that is open for all types of people in the city, instead of being a burden. Thus, it offers a brilliant example of conserving the heritage of the city and developing it at the same time.

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