The design team of Henkin Irit and Shavit Zohar have converted a centuries-old building in Safed into a thoroughly modern home, strategically introducing new glass windows and doors to the old stone structure, flooding the interior with sunshine that paints the rooms with a changing wash of light and shadows. Construction of the 175 m2 “Reflection House” finished this year.
Situated 2,953 feet above sea level, Safed is the nation’s highest city with a mild climate and spectacular hillside views that underpin its rep as a popular holiday resort. Demand for modern accommodation is great.
The architects opted to keep the old masonry walls, sourcing extra stone of equal age from nearby structures to supplement construction. Previously hidden under plaster, the old rock now stars as main feature of the restored building.
The designers added new wall openings strategically placed to introduce natural daylight while reducing interior glare and heat gain. Indoor finishes feature bright, reflective surfaces like polished concrete floors and glass walls in varying transparency which bounce light deep into the rooms, and add to a general feel of openness.
The structure has a tin roof, specially designed to prevent snow buildup and protect the interiors from seasonal swings in outdoor temperature. While we could not get information on the efficiency of mechanical and plumbing fixtures, the designers did state that the heavy masonry walls are self-insulating. They also gain green kudos for adaptive reuse of a culturally significant structure.
Safed rose to fame in the 16th century as a center of a form of Jewish mysticism known now as Kabbalah. It is also the birthplace of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Legend has it that the city was founded after the Great Flood by a son of Noah. Considered (alongside Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias) one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities, the city endured several devastating plagues.
Located atop the Syria-Africa faultline in northern Israel, the city is vulnerable to powerful earthquakes. This structure, estimated to be 250 years old, likely survived Safed’s last major shake-up – the Galilee ‘quake of 1837.
Know of a similar restoration in your neck of the woods? Drop us a comment. Green Prophet loves to broadcast news about adaptive re-use of the Middle East’s historical structures.
All images by Asaf Pinchuk for HENKIN SHAVIT Architecture & Design