The resulting challenge, meted out by the institution, was to create a building that would make the library accessible to a new generation of users.
The design is characterised by a curved, ‘slab’ of stone raised on struts to provide visual access through on the lower level to the street. Once inside, the structure’s apparent solidity gives way to a wide-open space, lit from above by a vast oculi.
“Our project reflects the open and transparent ambitions of the National Library of Israel,” said Herzog & de Meuron. “The strong, sculptural form of the stone, related to the specific topography and context of the site, is elevated off the ground, and situated above vitrine-like elements.
“The stone contains a large open space for the library’s visitors and users to interact, while the vitrines expose the collection, reading room and public functions to the street and adjacent surroundings.”
The 34,000sq m library includes a central research centre; venues for indoor and outdoor activities; a hall for digital experience; a secure, climate-controlled underground storage; administrative headquarters and parking.
The National Library of Israel will be situated in the National Precinct (Kiryat Ha’Leom) alongside the Knesset, Israel Museum, Science Museum, Hebrew University and the Supreme Court building.
“The new building is the jewel in the crown of the National Library’s renewal enterprise,” said David Blumberg, chair of the National Library of Israel. “These professional realms encompass research, preservation and provision of access to Jewish and Israeli culture using state of the art technologies.”
The executive architect Mann Shinar Architects and Planners will develop the designs next year, while construction is set to begin in 2016 and to be completed in 2019.
Herzog & de Meuron was awarded the job after Israeli architect Rafi Segal was ousted following a copyright dispute.