According to the plan, the design reacts to the curve of Stephan Weiz Street while it transforms in three dimensions to the rectilinear shapes of the Jerusalem Botanic Gardens, and National Library beyond. The value of its innovative design lies in its elevation and the creation of a public park connecting the surrounding grounds. The landscaped rooftop becomes a natural extension of the surrounding park, filled with indigenous plants and multileveled green roofs. From the distance, the design looks like a large sculpture in the centre of the park, undulating in all directions.
The design offers two major access points, the north plaza and the south plaza. From each plaza the form allows visitors to ascend from the ground to two vantage points offering captivating views of the surrounding district.
The Academy of the Hebrew Language represents, and also determines, how the Hebrew Language has continually evolved and grown from ancient times to the modern-day. ODA’s design is meant as a translation, quite literally with the façade design expressing the linear arrangement of the Hebrew phrase referencing ‘The Tower of Babel’ and its myth of the origin of multiple languages. Abstracted from the historic original Hebrew characters to the modern square Hebrew characters and ultimately applied to the façade through vertical graphic manipulation, the Jerusalem stone façade can be developed into a literal expression of the Hebrew language.
From the contextual connections to the architectural expression, purpose and form come together in a way that allows for the Academy to be a truly unifying force; Hebrew Language as the unifier. From the interior layout and programmatic distribution to the tailored workspace, to the vast open spaces and connection to nature and climate, this new home allows for many functions to exist under one roof.
Three distinct programme elements, academy, common spaces and conference centre, and exhibition, are arranged around a 56 ft high central atrium and permeable ground floor, the building functions as a compact and unified campus.
The private area of the buildings, which acts as office space for academy employees, has a library for internal staff and houses the archives. The semipublic programme holds classrooms, an auditorium, a plenary, and event programming.
The public section of the academy, the museum display, and guided activities are open to a variety of audiences. At the Center and Gallery, visitors will embrace their consciousness and expand their familiarity with the Hebrew language, and understand its importance, uniqueness, and impact on their personal identity, the essence of Israeli society, and beyond.
ODA designed the academy with sustainability as a priority; the design incorporates key sustainability solutions such as shaded outdoor terraces, low water plantings, rainwater collection, and reducing the heat island effect. These are most evident in the pocket garden and small inner courtyards which bring natural diffused light to the interior of the building. There is also a solar shading system on the exteriors that controls heat gain and energy consumption.
ODA submitted its proposal to the competition in late 2020, and as of yet, the project remains in the conceptual stage.