moshe safdie proposes design for national library of israel
all images courtesy of moshe safdie
moshe safdie‘s proposal for the national library of israel posits an extroverted architecture that links the multi-axial site to a rich and varied program as well as provides dramatic views of the landscape. the central architecture gesture, however, is the expert synthesis of traditional building and technological tectonics in form of a buoyant, thin-shell structural roof, all enclosed by white fritted glass. constructed using a system of precast concrete inlaid with jerusalem stone, the building impossible sweeps over outdoor and indoor promenades and provides interior illumination to showcase the library’s prominent main collection. the light- permeable roof, extensive glazing, deep light shelves, and open interior spaces allow daylight to permeate every part of the building, greatly reducing the need for artificial light. radiant heating and cooling localize air displacement, supported by geothermal cooling, earth buffering, and thermal labyrinth systems rather than conventional cooling towers. rainwater reclamation allows for landscape irrigation and secondary use within the building.
the plot occupies a central spot in jerusalem, just south of knesset, and makes for the connection of government, culture and education in a distinct way. expressed materially and actually, the operations and workings of the library would be open to public view and interaction. rather than keeping the library’s main collection hidden from view, the library celebrates its collection; its fast-stacks are located in the center of the library and visible from all directions, forming a 15-meter high base supporting reading rooms above. this location provides for an efficient flow of materials and, more significantly, makes the national cultural storehouse a major element of the library experience.
view of the building overlooking the knesset
orthogonality meets thin-shell domes
an angled, louvered layer is offset from a swath of fritted glass
the concrete, glass and stone construction allows for ample amounts of interior daylight to pervade the space
a stone building system is dematerialized to allow for interior light
view of one of the reading rooms topped by the thin shell
water features and a warm lighting program complete the proposal
floor plan level 1