Court Complex, Jerusalem
(Competition entry – Jury citation – December 2006)
Each one of the words, "Hall", "Court" and "Jerusalem" carries a particular deep ethical meaning. The link between all three, lays in front of the entire project a challenge that raises respects and awe at the same time.
Beyond the obvious need to define an efficient and effective solution to the complex program, the project needs to fulfill expectations involving the representations of the meaning and values associated with each of the following concepts. On the other hand the danger relating to the simplistic translation of mastery and sanctity can lead to symbolic and presumptuous outcomes that will damage the purpose of the temple which functions as an accessible civilian center.
These two poles stood firmly right before our eyes when we defined at the basis of the proposal our aspiration to create a connection between the simplistic concepts of "space" and "justice".
In our opinion this connection can be created solely through the characterization of the specified encounter provided by the program along with the location and the material; and together with the architecture language most substantial and fundamental concepts, "volume", "weight" and "shape"*. Therefore the development procedure of the entire schema, as well as the specific use of the dominant building material - Jerusalem stone bearing its unique meanings – add up to a one complete outcome whose different expression can be seen in each of the proposal's clause hereby specified.
* Which is a pure architectural act according to the traditional use of the adjective word architect, or architect in Aramaic, interpreted as the servant of the temple, meaning the one who translates the spirit and mastery to material."
The plan principles: The starting point for developing the plan was the ambition to create a separate space from the rest of the city which will enable the detachment from every day life and let loose from its troublesome in the presence of the court hall.
For this reason we chose to begin the program consolidation process from the site image to a full mass that on one hand intended to create the space, and on the other hand its construct and design done accurately by cutting the mass with the help of the detailed program of each and every structure.
This process can be presented by three major steps:
1. Positioning - Jerusalem stone block placed on the site.
2. Subtraction - An exact system of geometrical stone cutting which carves the public space and reveals the two structures of the peripheral court houses.
3. Addition - Horizontal passages system connecting the court house structures and defines the inside outside relationships.
As a result of the stone cutting and the connection, an inner public space is obtained which is one of a kind and surrounded by a system of parametric structures.
By creating a public plaza in proximity to the entrance that will compensate the public open space that was taken by the museum tolerance, the court hall will bring back to the square the familiar balance of the relations between the constructed and the open. Following the exterior plaza and after entering through the huge gate in-between the structures, the visitor will arrive at the inner plaza of the hall. "Court of justice" that links all the entrances upon the different courts and creates an extraordinary big space that offers its guests a sitting area in the open space, silence, and full of splendor. In additional to the other entrances required in the brief we offer another gate that links the court of justice toward the "Independence Garden" and by doing so creates an extraordinary series of public spaces in the center of the city.
An entrance through the huge gate will lead the visitor into the "court of justice" – the big inner public space that is obtained as a result of the mass stonecutting. The big inner court that links all the entrances toward the different courts will make it possible for visitors to stay in the open space, which is silent and full of unusual splendor.
Organizational structure – plan
The plan organizes the brief's requirements in a way that is achieves maximum efficiency for the varied users of the hall. There was an emphasis on defining the shortest access paths for each group of users and locating the relevant functions as close as possible to one another for the purpose of reducing walking distances and to reach an optimal use of each function.
The different courts divided to four pairs of structures where each one is composed of two structures that populate different courts. The decision to divide the campus into separate structures (unlike unifying it to one structure) enables the formation of the inner court and distinguishing between the different courts.
The structures consisting the pairs are combined by a vertical circulation system that serving them both and create transparent spaces that allows mutual observation toward and from the garden. The waiting spaces are doubled height for those looking toward the courtyard, located at each level and connected all together (meaning they serve pair of halls) in order to create a bigger and more respectable size for this spaces without deviating from the charts and the territory provided. The functional system achieves its wholeness by the separate circulation system for judges and prisoners (when needed) accompanied by waiting spaces.
The administration and the judges' structures allow a disconnection between the hall's employees and its visitors, and on the other hand drastically reduce the walking distance towards the halls by ingathering the offices near the appropriate halls. This separation particularly matches flexible and changing needs of the offices organization in which the structure is prepared to function as an office building. Choosing the a single loaded hallways to the structure that is intended to let judges and other employees views toward the elevated and protective inner patio space which accompanies the entire length of the structure. In addition "opposite" observations are also possible; the visitors can look at the judges' conduct from the court of justice while they pass along the corridors and the bridges. The structure is directly connected with the underground parking lot in order to minimize additional walking distance by the judges and employees from the cars to the offices and the bureaus. The basement level unifies most of the halls floor area, connecting the continuous underground space and offers direct connection using the elevators to each of the structures.
Section – concept:
As a direct continuance to the work on the plan, the starting point in accomplishing the section was the inspiration to design an urban symbol that carries organics characteristics that will behold the impression of an immediate continuation of the stone platform and will express the spectacular invigorating dynamic of Jerusalem's glory on one hand, and the unique volume and weight of the court hall program on the other hand.
Therefore, we have made a use of the detailed contest brief as a three dimensional map which defines the exact geometrical section system which was used for the specific structures stonecutting from the full mass and for each of the different courts. Those sections are the actual accurate expression of the inner volumes at the different floors of each structure that are organized in accordance with the organization principles that aspire to maximal efficiency and clarity.
Urban scale – The creation of a unique urban symbol which presents a daily show and a night show separately, prominent in its presence which is sharp and clear versus the dismantled system of the tolerance museum.
Inner scale – creating a vertical structural system that minimizes the floor area and reduces the horizontal walking distance in between the different functions. The organizational principles of the section is being expressed at the alternate halls division compared with the floors – meaning each floor passes by the level or mid-level of another hall. This system enables a maximal use of all supplementary functions of the halls (waiting areas, toilet rooms, movement systems etc) that serves each time at least two halls and save an unnecessary double use of the same functions.
Much thought has been inaugurated in designing an envelope flexible enough to allow the creation of unique system capable to match the changing organization of the plan at each structure.
The abstract structures we have created by the system of three dimensional sections "required" an envelope or skin. Skin, which is at the same time unified and can carry the ability to change according to specific needs of each space that comes in touch with it. The envelope is based on system we have developed of self leveling concrete that are slotted at different intervals as needed in each space at day light. The concrete pouring is covered by stone (dry hanging) and the changing intervals are obtained between the concrete beams turn into windows with changing depth. This system on one hand enabled us to create surfaces at different angles using conventional construction and with no special effort, and on the other hand providing a special effect on the dynamic stone surfaces, which bond into organic bodies. In addition the facade functions as a "Mashrabia" or Brie-soliel – where the glass is situated in the shade most of the day – a fact that with no doubt will minimize the cost of energy expenses for air conditioning and will assist in defining the projects as friendly to the environment.
The core of the central circulation system in each of the structures will also be used as the main vertical foundation core. The envelope can be constructed on the site in a conventional manner while the self leveling concrete has to be poured through the columns' molds into the open horizontal molds that are spread in the beams patterns (that later on will be covered by stone) and will connect the spaces between the columns. The envelope's columns are being tied through the floors into a central core and will stabilize the structure.
Unlike the organization of the space that was divided into concept and system or an organizational structure, the essence of the architectural detail is minimizing the concept and the manner of its implementation into one and only expression.
An Urban scale – Exterior – The rough and "natural" processing of the stone facing the outside and determining the glass plane at the section depth will express the outer side panel of the stone placed in the site at the basis of the designing process and will create the organic exterior sight of the hall structure.
A Local scale - Interior - A delicate processing of the stone facing the outside and determining the glass level as continuous to the stone plane (flash) is an expression to the inner sections that define the shape of the structures and the "human" inner space of the hall.