The Rejuvenation of Israel’s National Library
During your gap year in Jerusalem, you should take the time to visit Jerusalem’s National Library. Not only does it present a fantastic opportunity to delve into the history of the state, but it is also set in some beautiful scenery.
Recently a highly ambition plan was revealed for a complete renovation of the National Library and hopefully in a few years’ time it will be possible to enjoy the rejuvenated site. The library is located between the Israel Museum and the Knesset and the impressive modernisation will be designed and managed by the highly respected Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. It is expected that the project will take about four years to complete and should be opened to the public in 2020.
The National Library was founded in 1892 and since 1925 it has been located in the Givat Ram campus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The new project has plans to build a huge complex with exhibition spaces, eating venues, an auditorium, bookstores and a youth centre. The hope is that researchers and visitors will be able to take advantage of the library’s extensive archives, valuable manuscripts and the many unique items that it is home to.
The idea of the rejuvenation is to focus on modernising the cultural institution and there are plans for a six story building that will measure 45,000 square metres. Just like today all books will remain at the centre as they form a foundation and necessary balance against constant technological innovation. This idea will be that books root the building to the ground and they will be on display throughout the complex. Vitrine-like elements form the bottom two floors and display the library’s content and activities to the street.
Above the bottom two floors will be a carved space containing stone to bind the project together and reflect the massive quality of Jerusalem’s historical architecture, the scale of the adjacent buildings and the shape of the site. However, the stone is not just sculptural. The elevated structure will provide shade while its mineral construction adds thermal mass to insulate the interior spaces.
The hope is that the design responds to the context and reflects the ambitions of the National Library of Israel: it is open and transparent but grounded in the traditions of great libraries and the city itself.
The project will of course take some time to complete, but if possible, you should try to take the time to visit this great institution and see some of the many treasures it is home to.