Ficus branches referenced in winning design for underground railway station competition by Galmidi Yitzhar and Yaksein Eliran
Ficus Microcarpa has been planted along the streets of Tel Aviv to provide shade and shelter from the desert sun. It is considered a staple of Israeli landscape and is integrated into, as well as predominates, that landscape. Thus, it stands out and dominates, visually, one daily basis. A recent conceptual competition for an underground railway station in Tel Aviv was won by the planner and designer Galmidi Yitzhar and the industrial designer Yaksein Eliran, largely inspired by the image of the Ficus Microcarpa.
The designers drew inspiration from three major sources and strove to attain an organised integration of concepts, ideas, and feelings. The first and main inspiration came from the Ficus Microcarpa. The initial planning and designing of the station was executed keeping in mind the main goal - to imitate and enhance the ambiance and feel of the outside world and to bring the street into the train station. That feeling is expressed by bringing in natural light as well as creating the image of the Ficus, i.e., a trunk with a bouquet of steel pipes that are placed on the train deck.
A second inspiration for this project came from the Bauhaus period as Tel Aviv is considered the Bauhaus capital of the world. The edges of the train station were created to replicate the balconies of the homes in Tel Aviv during that period of time. Here, too, the elements of natural light and the feeling it promotes were both utilised in order to enhance and empower the shape of the entrance and exit portals of the train station.
The colours in the train station provide an additional interpretation of the multifaceted design and constitute a reminder of how ‘white’ and full of light are the streets of Tel Aviv. The whole station is thus painted white, a colour that not only symbolises clean lines, but also serves as a reflector (enhancing natural light that comes into the station) and as an additional source of light for the whole underground deck.
The third source of inspiration came from Yad Kennedy, located in the mountains of Jerusalem. It inspired the conversation between light and shade on the deck. The cement roots of the memorial are the steel pipes roots that extend and manifest themselves across the floors of the train station deck. This also resembles the roots of the Ficus tree, which is a common theme of this design.