This project is a proposal in a competition held by the municipality of Haifa for the design of a central library in the city. The area assigned to the library is in Merkaz Hacarmel neighborhood, near Panorama hotel, overlooking the Carmel View promenade and the sea.

 

Haifa, due to its topography and history, is a city sub-divided into many areas and neighborhoods. The features that give it unity and uniqueness are the mountain and the sea. The proposal is based on the conception that the municipal library of Haifa should be a visual expression of the landscapes of its city and a cultural expression of and for its inhabitants. The proposed structure grows out of the mountain and faces the sea. The mountain and the sea contribute to its ambience, light and silence needed in a building devoted to reading, study and research.

 

The proposed design of the library draws from the following foundations: (1) its place in the cultural and historical context (2) the quality of its program – the library as a place for reading and study for all age groups (3) its location in the urban context, land and topography.

 

1. History

As we reach the area of the library we first discover, a 'plaza', where different outdoor activities take place. This is a plaza for the people, a plaza for Mount Carmel, and a plaza for the city of Haifa.  As a background for the plaza we designed a 'wall', echoing Haifa's historic walls built by the Turks, and protecting the library from the noise of the street.

The choice of the triangle as the basic form of the Library and the Walls was based on the border between the library's plot, and the neighboring one intended for the Center of Israeli Studies. The shapes pierce one another harmoniously. The choice of the triangle as shape has another side to it, the Symbolic side. In ancient history the triangle was considered a symbol of the rationalism of Man's thought in "Speech", "Thought" and "Action". Books and study are the basic fuel for deeds, thoughts and the speech of Man. The triangle also represents equilibrium and harmony. In Haifa, Muslims, Christians and Jews lived next to one another in relative harmony during all of its history.

 

2. The Program

The Library's Building is composed of three blocks: The Youth and Adult Block, the Circulation Block and the Children-Archives-Entrance Block.

 

3. Topography

Architecture must follow the topography lines, but there must be also a "leading hand", in other words "a gestalt" architecture. This is why the basic geometrical triangle shape used in the library links perfectly between "Order" and "Freedom". The triangular shape matches the topography and at the same time gives it order.

Municipal Library, Haifa (1999)

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