The National Library of Israel
In Brief

The National Library Construction Company Ltd


Competition entry


The National Library will be a living resource not only reflecting history but also shaping the future of Israel. This proposal will create a building that combines efficient and flexible planning with inspirational and memorable spaces for staff, users and visitors alike. The library will become an international symbol of learning. It will establish a new type of conceptual and architectural response to a national institution that reflects and manifests a more open and inclusive approach for the new millennium.

The design is understood as an integrated approach:  the building is part of the landscape rather than an object on it. The architectural approach elevates the reading room and collections spaces of the library and suspends them above a landscape which is allowed to flow beneath the building, preserving views across the site and creating a sense of openness and welcome at ground level. The library is then organised by a series of terrace and courtyard spaces allowing education and culture as well as research and study to take place as part of this garden of knowledge.

The library will establish a series of new datums and horizons that connect the buildings of state and the Israel Museum, symbolically linking the state, the people and the wider world. The library acknowledges the Knesset set as an object on a plinth reflecting the authority of the state. The library inverts this formality, establishing its main gestures as void spaces within a fluid mass, suggesting contemplation and the intangible, timeless, sacred nature of the word. The library’s more formalised interior is juxtaposed with a less formal exterior defined by a curvilinear shape responding to the surrounding landscape and topography and gently contrasting with the orthogonal forms of its immediate architectural context.

The library is simply organised with the stack and those operational functions requiring adjacency to the stack and receiving area in the basement levels. Reading rooms, open collections and administrative facilities are harbored in a singular volume suspended above.