bezalel competition

Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. A New Campus for Bezalel in the Center of Jerusalem.
International Architecture Competition

The design strategy has been articulated in a series of steps in order to respond to the complex program requirements and very strict parameter and constraints operating both on a visual (massing) and technical level (façade materials, light requirements, etc.) set up by the competition brief.

Step 1: massing.
The massing of the project is the direct result of the height limitations, the streets alignment and the 45 meters free corridor on the middle of the site. Two main blocks emerge on the north and the south areas of the site; they are connected thru a big basement volume that occupy the entire site area from the street level down to -6.00 mt.

Step 2: program fitness.The main volumes emerging from the first design step are deformed to receive the program and circulation organization. The volumes are optimized according to program fitness criteria. Each of the two main building volumes are divided in two blocks connected each other by a glazed volume. This glazed volume becomes the back bone over which all the project is organized. It’s the main connector between all the different program areas. It crosses the basement, allowing natural illumination at the level -6.00 mt, and connecting the north volumes with the south ones.

Step 3: performative modulation.
The volumes are cut and perforated in different manners in order to respond to a series of performative requirements within the context of a coherent architectural language. The requirements are: direct natural enlighten control, circulation exposure, privacy levels, view to and from the old city. The combination of each requirement with the different parts of the building program generated a modulation of a limited set of specific solutions (from the small window holes, to the shed skin, to the big panoramic windows).

The adoption of such a device achieved a robust technique that allows several variations in the same systems without compromising the design integrity. Thru these three operations, the design process highlights a series of spatial conditions achieved in different parts of the building. The spatial topics are: program and privacy level, circulation, natural Light and sustainability, relation to the old city, visibility.

Program and Privacy level for a new urban campus.
By being both a public and a local resource, the architectural space presents four different privacy levels (public, semi public, restricted to student and professor, local).

– The public open plaza at the level 0.00 is accessible both from the street level of the Russian Orthodox Church and from the street level at – 6.00 mt. It’s a public space that can be used by everybody (it is possible to think to a controlled access by fencing the borders).

– The Main Entrance Hall at the level -6.00 is a semi public access controlled space. This area host semi-public activities such as the auditorium, the library, the coffee shop, shop and all activities accessible 24 hour a day such as sport facilities and canteen.

– The circulation in the 2 emergent buildings is restricted to students and professors. It connects the main entrance hall to the common spaces and the different departments.

– The footbridge on the level -3.00 is a restricted area and connects directly the 2 emergent buildings. This space achieves a high visibility of the students flow and a feeling of dynamic conditions.

The building circulation is organized on 2 levels. The main circuit corresponds to the glazing back bone of the building complex. It is a naturally enlightened space with high visibility levels. The other circuits are developed around the internal halls and balconies of the various departments. The main entrance to the complex is at the plaza at level -6.00.

Natural Light and sustainability.
The light responsive modulation of the Jerusalem stone façade (step 3 of the design process) combines the program requirement and the site constraints by integrating the natural daylight into the design of the building. The stone façade unfolds five internal enlighten conditions: filtered, contrasted, reflected, and diffused lighting. All the window systems are thought to avoid any direct light inside the building.

The wide glazing is equipped with photovoltaic cells that produce electric energy and filter the light. This system is used in the main circulation areas and in some of the workshop areas to allow a panoramic view over the old city.

The north oriented sheds use the potential of the Mediterranean light reflectivity to track and diffuse light in the studio spaces. The cuts in the stone façade facing the old city define a dramatic effect contrasting between shade, shadow, and direct sunlight and allows for spectacular sights of the old city.

The diffusing diamonds and the filtering embrasures modulate the intensity and directionality of the light and contrast on the short facades to the streets.

Relation to the city and the historic buildings.
The massing of the building is defined by the urban constraints stated by the competition brief. Dramatic views over the old city and local views towards the Russian Orthodox Compound buildings enrich the space in the whole building complex.

The project is aimed by the definition of the wide visual connections between the different areas of the building and the historical compound. The visual corridor across the building creates direct and filtered visual connections from and to the old city and from and to the activities of the different departments. The open internal balconies connect the studios space and define a visual interaction between the different departments.

cesare griffa, caterina tiazzoldi, maurizio gontier

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