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October 17 2021 6:16 AM ˚

Villa Mango: Architectural witness to decades of Ammani heritage

An undated photo of Villa Mango in Downtown Amman. (Photo: Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)
An undated photo of Villa Mango in Downtown Amman. (Photo: Nayrouz Ali/Jordan News)
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AMMAN – A family villa in Jabal Amman speaks to the long architectural and anthropological history of Jordan’s capital. اضافة اعلان

After Circassian migrants settled in a Jordanian valley in 1878, in what is now known as downtown of Amman, buildings started to crop up around Al-Husseini Mosque.

The mosque was the center of the urban growth of the city of Amman. Later on, buildings started to climb up the mountains, shaping a new urban pattern that in the future formed the backbone of the city's identity.

The Jerash earthquake of 1927 resulted in some building demolitions and deaths. After that, residents moved towards the top of these mountains and occupied them.

Soon, the valley would become a commercial hub. The altitude and topography were the main factors contributing to the construction in Amman.

The Jabal Amman neighborhood, like many others, came into existence through this process. What makes the history of the neighborhood, now a thriving quarter full of restaurants and cafes, unique from others is the people who lived there.

The neighborhood was mostly inhabited by the elites of the community; Jabal Amman was home to politicians, artists, and merchants.

The Mango family was among the wealthiest families in Amman at that time. Ibrahim Mango established the renowned “Mango Market” in Downtown Amman with his merchant brother, Hamdi Mango.

The family owned palaces in Jabal Amman. Hamdi Mango’s first palace has now became the Royal Film Commission.

Villa Mango was constructed by Hamdi’s sons, Kamal and Ali Mango. It is considered a landmark in Jabal Amman, and the city at large, for its distinctive, eye-catching architectural features.

Located at the intersection of Omar bin Al-Khattab Street – previously known as Mango street — and Rainbow Street, the house was built by Kamal and Ali Mango in the late 1940s, and designed by the architect Mukhtar Saqr.

The construction of Villa Mango followed a different architectural approach than other buildings in Amman built during the same era, as contractors used rose stone brought all the way from Jerusalem.

The blueprint was divided into two sections to accommodate the two brothers, as opposed to the wide-spread plan of “the three-bay house,” which was very popular in Amman and the Levant in the 1920s.

Perhaps the first element that catches the eye about the house are its balconies, made of rounded stone at the end of a linear composition, and supported by double columns and facing opposite the Jabal Al-Akhdar neighborhood and Downtown Amman valley.

One could say that the building was influenced by the Bauhaus movement. The house's style can be traced in its form, expression, and architectural language, but it still manages to preserve a sense of identity.

Members of the Mango family live in the villa to this very day. Even after the revamping of Rainbow Street, during which many families left their homes. Villa Mango remains a witness to the historical architecture of Amman.

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