Earth-loving kibbutzniks applied their green building techniques to the luxury Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Jerusalem.
Residents of the Neot Semadar Kibbutz in Israel’s Negev desert have been constructing green buildings for decades, but they’ve never operated beyond their own turf – until now. Tasked with resurrecting Jerusalem’s Palace hotel as the 223 room Waldorf-Astoria, world-renowned Turkish architect Sinan Kafadar sought out their expertise while finishing off the interior.
A founding member of the kibbutz, Mordechai Corcos told Israel 21C that he and other kibbutzniks have never worked on a project outside of the desert, but he felt honored to employ techniques regularly practiced on the numerous colorful green buildings at Neot Semadar to restore the historic 1923 hotel.
The contrast between what Corcos and his fellows do at the farming community 70km north of Eilat and the luxury Waldorf-Astoria couldn’t be more pronounced. While Neot Semadar promotes team work, self-reflection, and environmental responsibility, the hotel in Jerusalem is the very picture of opulence.
In addition to its luxury rooms, it will have 30 private residents, a retractable atrium roof, two fine dining restaurants, a spa, and various other comforts unfamiliar to hard-working desert dwellers.
And yet Kafadar found a place to apply Neot Semadar’s earth-conscious detailing to this Park Avenue-esque project in the nucleus of one of the world’s most contentious cities.
No building better symbolizes the heart of what happens at what was once Kibbutz Shiafon before it became an organic community that produces world-class olive oil, wine, dates, and architecture, than the extraordinary Arts Center that was realized over a period of 15 years.
Made entirely out of mud and straw and decorated with a mosaic floor, the center also features a remarkable passive cooling tower that combines ancient Middle Eastern design with modern technology to ward off high temperatures without too much mechanical assistance.
But for the remodel in Jerusalem, ten kibbutzniks stuck to precast concrete techniques to render complex geometric designs. Israel21C writes:
Guests at the Waldorf-Astoria Jerusalem won’t likely notice the particulars of the number plates on their room doors, the doorframes or wall panels in the hallways. The kibbutzniks in Neot Semadar, however, know exactly who produced them and how these architectural products were installed at the 223-room, state-of-the-art hotel.
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