Architecture of Israel

The Yacov and Zeev Rechter Prize for Architecture: Finalists
Dr. Ami Ran


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            The Rechter Prize is intended to encourage landmark projects of Israeli architecture. This year, 11 out of 57 projects reached the finals. At the awards ceremony, the judges, including architects Robert Oxman, Orit Siman-Tov, and Ulrik Plesner, looked somewhat stunned.  Oxmans speech revealed that none of this years projects were in fact the result of innovative thought, and none had the potential to contribute to the development of a defined local architecture. In the absence of a more worthy public project, hinted Oxman, the prize was awarded to architect Gabi Schwartz for his design of an apartment complex which stood out for its sensitivity to its public surroundings. The reasoning behind their choice was that "Even though the issue is an essential part of Israeli architecture, there are very few impressive accomplishments in the field."

            According to the judges: "The Prize was awarded to architect Gabi Schwartz for his unique design of an apartment project in Karmiel. The project exhibits Schwartz’s commitment to creating a spatially rich environment for community life within public housing. It demonstrates the use of both aesthetic and social qualities to create a balance between the private domain and public space."


            However, we think that despite the poor economic and political situation in Israel over the past five years, some of the projects are not at all disappointing. And here they are:


See illustrations up to page 57

Ada Karmi-Melamede

Life Sciences Building, Medical and Health Complex, Ben Gurion University


Planned during the past eight years, the complex is part of the new master plan prepared by Karmi-Melamede. Although maintaining the basic layout designed by architect Avraham Yasky in the 1960s, this plan allows for greater architectural freedom. Instead of the rigid grid style that characterizes many of the campus buildings, the Life Sciences Faculty creates a more friendly academic and social environment.


Amir Mann, Ami Shinar

Mercury Headquarters Buildings, Yehud


The two hi-tech buildings express the guiding principles of completion and contradiction, characterizing office architecture: synthesis of the abstract and the concrete; meeting of diverse; conflicting functions with varied building materials, where voids oppose protrusions, where individuality confronts cooperation, and the suspended meets the grounded.

Roni Seibert

The Guttman Museum,Tel Aviv


The Neve Zedek neighborhood was populated during the early twentieth century by the intellectual elite of the First Aliyah (immigration), who played a major role in establishing the Hebrew culture, among them writers such as Brenner, Agnon, Aharonovitch, Shimonovitch, Barrash, S. Ben Zion, and Deborah Baron. Some lived in what became later the Authors’ House on Rokach Street, recently transformed into a museum of the works of artist Nahum Guttman. Two wings added in the front merge harmoniously with the renovated building at the back. Sustaining the building’s original character, a glass and steel structure links the new extension to the old building.

David Guggenheim

School of Holocaust Studies,

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem


The Holocaust School is another product of Israel’s great investment in the campaign "never to forget". Representatives from all over the world study in this three story building, merging with the northern slopes of Yad Vashem. The laboratories are located on the upper floor which overextends the workshops and administration offices on the middle floor; the classrooms are on the ground floor. Natural light, which plays a key role in many memorial structures, enters the building from glass windows in the roof and the northern wall. The southern courtyards were designed to capture the warming winter sun.


Kimmel-Eshkolot architects

(associate architect Ilan Carmi)

The Davidson Center for Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction, Jerusalem


Located in the archaeological park at the Old City, the center blends contemporary construction with structures from the 7th century BCE. Using elements such as computerized lighting, the building enables visitors to experience the historical development of the site.


Haim Dotan

The Sammy and Angela Simon Computer Science Building, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva


The building is the first in a series of eight that will form the new campus. Located in the heart of an old neighborhood, the building flows above the park level like a technological bridge, allowing visitors and locals to move freely below. The classrooms surround an atrium with a skylight and glass floors that allow natural light to penetrate throughout. Movement in the campus follows three routes: the public walkway on the ground floor; the bridge access route for students arriving from the old campus; and vehicular access via a subterranean parking lot.

Moshe Tzur

Gev-Yam office buildings


Tzur’s candidacy for the prize was based on his work in general, with an emphasis on projects such as the Kfar Saba Mall and the Gev-Yam office buildings in Herzliya Pituach. The scope of Tzurs work is one of the broadest in Israeli architecture, and his buildings, spread all over the country, are known for their contemporary appearance.  We chose to show the rear of the Gev-Yam building, for its unique contribution to the transformation of a run-down industrial area into an ultra-modern urban street.

Gabi Schwartz (prize winner)

The "Bustan" neighborhoods, Karmiel.


Schwartzs plan was conducted within the framework of a housing project for a number of neighborhoods in Karmiel, otherwise planned as typical "H" apartment buildings. Based on the deployment of cubic structures scattered like "Galilee terraces" in harmony with the hilly landscape, his alternative not only exploits the landscape, but also avoids the visual clutter of a typically massive construction on the Karmiel hillside. Without losing the economic advantage of industrially-built modular structures, Schwartz’s spatial organization allows for a hierarchical division of the shared living space. Beginning with the private unit, through the apartment building to the neighborhood level, it provides the opportunity for random situations essential for social interaction.

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