National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel

Jerusalem, Israel, 2019 / Middle East / Cultural Civic

While most of the building is either unseen or understated, the soaring shade canopies give the institute a unique and fitting identity. The building is cut into the hillside and steps down with the topography to provide unrestricted views to some of Jerusalem’s most important institutions and museums on the skyline.

The new National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel is an important element in the composition of cultural and government buildings in Jerusalem. As the headquarters of the Israel Antiquities Authority, it reflects the civic identity of its mission, and as a public museum, provides an open and welcoming face to the city. Public functions include operational spaces such as conservation laboratories, archives, a library, offices, vaults and storage, as well as spaces to accommodate outreach.

Three courtyards step down the slope and are contained by wings housing the various program elements. One enters at the roof level, which faces the valley and descends into the complex. Two tensile-steel-and-fabric canopies cover the principal courtyard and the mosaic courtyard, referring to shading tents used for archaeological excavations.

Three courtyards step down the slope and are contained by building wings housing the various program elements. One enters into the highest courtyard at the road level, from where the project descends, allowing all indoor space to be located below street level, and preserving views across the valley.

The complex occupies a prominent site on Museum Hill, between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.

The inward-facing surfaces of the building are clad with glass curtain walls and silver metal panels, while the outward-facing walls on the perimeter have additional stone wall screens which provide for shading, and visually anchor the structure into the surrounding rocky hillside of golden Jerusalem limestone.

A stretched ‘transparent’ roof, simulating the tent-like canopies used to shade archaeological excavations, conveys rainwater to a pool situated in a courtyard below, and creates a flowing cascade of water.

Nearly two million archaeological objects, among them 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls, will be under one roof in Jerusalem for the first time. Visitors will be able to take part in the process of archaeological conservation.