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Amitzi Architects


National Library competition, Jerusalem

Honorary Mention. Collaboration with Keinan Architects, Dori Sadan and Ruti Orev

The proposal aims at creating a dialogue between the structure and its urban surroundings. A public plaza opening to the south functions as a “breathing” urban space, and opens towards the urban and natural landscape to the south. A bridge across Rupin blvd. leads to the library’s plaza and enables pedestrian traffic between the museum quarter and the Knesset and government compound. The public realm diffuses further into a covered plaza under the main building, allowing informal or formal gatherings. The main entrance is one level below, and the library’s visitors are visible from the plaza. The public part of the library rises above the plaza as a porous and “breathing” mass. Huge page-like stone-fins line the facades at uneven intervals to create slits that allow for either narrow views east and west, or broad views north and south. Two enormous ‘book ends’ mark the limits of the public part and incorporate vertical circulation of both people and books. A nine-square-grid system of galleries and bridges is suspended between them. The east-west galleries serve for circulation and access while the book shelves are arranged in the north-south galleries. The reading rooms are nestled within the galleries’ grid. The scholar using the reading rooms is surrounded by an internal landscape of books and the ever present background of Jerusalem landscape. The grid structure of the halls and galleries allows multiple oblique views across the depth of the reading rooms’ wing. The operational part of the library lies underneath the plaza and opens to the west. An open, landscaped ravine penetrates three floors below plaza level, letting natural light and air into the depth of the plan. The library’s book treasuries lie below the operational wing in huge vaults that penetrate deep into the ground. A public crossing that leads from Rupin blvd. to the Knesset penetrates the vaults and allows pedestrians an unasked for, breathtaking view of the treasuries.