May 30, 2017 - heneghan peng architects - The Palestinian Museum
e-flux Architecture
May 30, 2017
May 30, 2017

heneghan peng architects

Photo: Iwan Baan.

The Palestinian Museum

The Palestinian Museum
Museum Street (off Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Street)
Birzeit
Palestine

www.hparc.com

The mission of the Palestinian Museum is to be the leading, most credible and robust platform for shaping and communicating knowledge about Palestinian history, society and culture. 

To deliver on this mission, the client’s intention has been to develop a Palestinian Museum hub located in Birzeit, 25km north of Jerusalem (West Bank), and in two phases of building construction. Phase 1 (completed 2016) consists of a built area of 3,500 square-meters. It includes a climate-controlled gallery space, an amphitheatre, a cafeteria with outdoor seating, a library, classrooms, storage, a gift shop and administrative spaces; all set within 4 hectares of planned gardens. During Phase 2, the Museum will expand to a total of 10,000 square-meters.

The landscape of Palestine has the "worked" quality of a city; every element of it has been touched and tells a story of intervention, production, culture, environment and commerce. Like a city, the terraced landscape has embedded within it its history. The approach to the Palestinian Museum is to draw on this history of the terraced landscape, embedding the museum into its immediate site and drawing from this site to tell a larger story of a diverse culture. The site is formed through a series of cascading terraces, created by field stone walls which trace the previous agricultural terraces of the area. The theme of the landscape—from the cultural to the native—unfolds across the terraces with the more cultured and domesticated terraces close to the building, the planting changes gradually as one moves down the terraces to the west.

The cascade of terraces tells a diversity of stories; citrus brought in through trade routes, native aromatic herbs, a rich and varied landscape with connections east and west. Terrace themes include: 

–Cultural Landscapes and themes relating to culture and history 
–Agricultural Heritage
–Relationship of plants to trade routes and commerce
–Natural Landscapes and themes relating to wilderness and native plants, scrub lands, grass lands
–Nature & Culture: Incorporation of native plants into domesticated agriculture and food/medicine

The building itself emerges from the landscape to create a strong profile for the hilltop both integrated into the landscape yet creating an assertive form that has a distinctive identity. Largely a single-storey, it stretches out along the hilltop from the south to north and overlooks the gardens to the west. The ground floor, comprising entrance reception, museum administration, galleries, screening room and cafe opens out directly to the gardens at its northern end, while overlooking a stone amphiteatre below it at the southern end. In the lower ground floor there is a public Education and Research Centre with classrooms, workshops and administrative spaces. The education centre opens out to a cut stone amphiteatre to the west. In addition to the Education and Research Centre, the main art collections spaces, photographic archives, and art handling are all located in the lower ground floor. These spaces are not accessible to the public; they open out to a secure delivery yard at the eastern side of the building. 

The building will be the first LEED Certified building in Palestine. 

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