Museum of Nature and Science Winning Proposal / Schwartz Besnosoff + SO Architecture

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Designed by Schwartz Besnosoff + SO Architecture, their competition winning proposal for the Museum of Nature and Science in Jerusalem emphasizes the desire to create an open, absorbent, breathing building – the type of building that communicates with the environment, and not a closed structure with fences and a guard. In accordance with the sustainable planning approach, the building’s external appearance is restrained and modest, on the one hand blending into the environment, and on the other hand enveloping a flexible, multifaceted, and dynamic structure.







This approach reflects an attempt to offer Jerusalem an airy urbanity, a break from the physical and symbolic density. The architects believe that utilizing the building to structure the open urban space will help the residents of the capital “make friends” with the government buildings and create a positive tension between the citizens and their institutions. Therefore, they decided to locate the park at the entrance to the quarter on the Ruppin Boulevard side. The proposed building will protrude as a series of small single-story buildings in the center of the land plot, in a way that hints at the structure without interfering with the central presence of the park, which is opposite the coffee shop that serves visitors passing by.

With complex reciprocity between the interior and interior, the interior and the exterior, this results in a virtuosi building. The building typology imitates the form of Swiss cheese with green holes. The size and location of the green holes varies among the levels. On Level –12.00, the archeology level, the outside is actually the main aspect, while on the highest stories, the holes in the mass are more refined.


The exterior form of the building is based on a central geometric and symbolic concept that incorporates all of the design principles required by the overall plan, and creates a thread connecting and unifying them, with the possibility of execution in several stages. The building is organized in the plan, cross-section, and façade as building bricks laid upon one another. This is a metaphor of the process of the development of interrelations between humans and their environment and of the process of evolutionary creation.



The building is organized in three sections of half-stories, thus ensuring an inner interactive and flexible space for exhibitions with different atmospheres and needs. The building is composed of meta-galleries, offices, a conference center, study areas, labs, storerooms, rooms for setting up exhibitions, a parking lot, and a planetarium. The design enables maximal accessibility to the nature museum and the science museum. It enables separate operation of different parts of the building, such as, for instance, the planetarium, the conference center, and the coffee shop that faces Ruppin Boulevard. The organization of functions was determined by the required lighting conditions, functions requiring natural light have been organized on the upper levels and as you descend, the lower levels accommodate functions that require less light and more controlled lighting.



The course of the museum movement is characterized as a linear path between fields, within a system of meta-galleries, some on an incline and some flat. The movement was organized as a central, linear system, with different interactions and options. Upon arriving at Level –12.00, an escalator takes the visitors up to the roof of the museum – to the outside exhibition gallery. From the roof exhibitions one descends to the astrophysics gallery and from there to the exit/entrance. The movement plan creates a situation in which the movement on the roof is part of the formal museum path; we consider this very important.

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Some of the green roofs of the building constitute a continuation of the park and some constitute a section of the internal movement, as a platform for the theme gardens. The underlying idea of the theme gardens is characterization of the landscapes of Israel, achieved by dividing the roof into different areas each representing a unique landscape. The result is a roof that constitutes a pattern of the landscapes of Israel – an experiential and physical catalogue of scenery. The roofs on the park level are accessible to visitors to the park and enable a museum experience without entering the museum.


In the summer, natural ventilation of the outside areas of the museum and cross-ventilation of the building at night will be made possible. To improve the thermal comfort of the visitors, moisture will be added by means of a system of water channels and pools passing from the outside to and through the buildings. In the winter, the thermal mass will be used to heat the building. The building heats up during the day and maintains a relatively high temperature during the evening and the early morning hours.


The watercourse winds through the building in a fascinating spatial manner. It serves as a source of natural light through the water, as a reservoir of grey water, as a desalinization pool, as a waterfall and as a water accumulation pool. We created a sort of canyon (wadi) between the building and the mountain. In addition to being an impressive visual attraction, the canyon serves as the base of the waterfall, a climbing wall, a grove and the path of the outer coating of stones, as well as a place from which light can enter the different sections of the museum.

water main


Plan 01


Plan 02


Plan 03


Plan 04


Plan 05


Plan 06

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Furuto, A. (2013). Museum of Nature and Science Winning Proposal / Schwartz Besnosoff + SO Architecture. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2014].


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