Although building a monument to nature is something of a contradiction in terms, o2a studio has done a wonderful job of finding balance between the built and unbuilt in this striking design for the Natural History Museum in Jerusalem. A subterranean facility with stone cladding, the museum is topped with a green roof that creates a continuation of the surrounding green space.
By building underground, o2a has minimized site intervention and paid allegiance to Jerusalem’s karstic geological formations. But this strategy also minimizes the amount of energy that will be required to keep the building warm in winter in cool in summer as the earth’s ambient temperature will stabilize the internal environment.
In order to bring natural light into the cave-like environment, however, it was necessary to create portals that poke through the green landscape; each is marked by a red steel box that also delineates the museum’s various functions.
In addition to providing further insulation and capturing harmful storm water runoff, the green roof extends the natural surrounding public park coming from Ruppin Blvd. It also ensures that the local fauna and flora can continue to thrive in what o2a calls the museum’s “second nature.”
In keeping with much of the architecture in Jerusalem, the museum is clad in stone with a glass backdrop and overlaid with etchings of trees. The designers wanted to draw the distinction between what is artificial and nature instead of hiding from it, which somehow emphasizes nature’s transcendent superiority.
:: Arch Daily