Porter Environmental Studies School - TAU
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Porter Environmental Studies School - TAU

The architectural concept for the Faculty of Environmental Studies evolved from the unique location of the site, the contours of the sloping terrain below and its proximity to the campus across the road.

The architectural composition is inspired by the steep curvilinear topography that stretches beyond the site boundaries and by the tension that resides within it and around its edges.

The building consists of two wings which wrap around a central sunken courtyard. The North Wing - which contains the auditorium, the offices and the classrooms -descends into the ground one floor below grade, and faces the courtyard. The South Wing, containing the research facilities and faculty offices, is elevated above grade. It features a panoramic view of Tel Aviv and Ramat-Gan, and exhibits a public scale through its curved volumetric façade.

The two wings start off as independent units which become one entity. At the point of juncture the research wing, which is the most symbolic component of the school, overlaps the classroom wing. An outdoor viewing platform on the eastern edge is shared by both and becomes the connecting link.

To the south, the natural landscape ascends towards the building and ends at the concave, glazed wall of the classrooms. Here, under the research wing, a berm is introduced as a seam between outside and inside, protecting the courtyard and creating an intimate scale within.

The internal circulation of the building revolves around the courtyard, whereas the private rooms face outward towards the city and the botanical gardens. Vertical sections of the building change continuously at every step of the way. Double-height volumes, indirect soft light and diagonal views increase the spatial experience and diffuse its physical boundaries.

The building picks up the clockwise rotation of the sun and converts the harsh direct light into a soft indirect translucent glow.

A layered membrane is employed over the exposed surfaces of the building, responsive to climate, light and glare. It includes vertical and horizontal louvers, translucent insulated panels, a detached protective skin and solar panels.

Framed by a continuous translucent and partially transparent envelope, the courtyard is enriched and transformed by the play of light and shade.
Consequently this building has a dual personality. It is simultaneously static and dynamic, it contracts and expands and it is both predictable and unpredictable.

Created by Lior Mark