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Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv



SIZE: 18.500 m2

STATUS: Competition - 2003

CLIENT: Tel Aviv Museum of Arts


"There is no value to a new architecture that is a purpose by itself unless there is within it the power to observe the order of things existing"

Mies van der Rohe

In a veil of revealing kingdom's treasures to the people the museum took the place of the executed king, turning the Louvre Palace into a national museum; the museum was opened to the general public, the art changed its owners, and in the new civic city a new pole of luxury was created.
"Blue blood" was replaced by a "white box", a concept that well represents the ethical dichotomy between inside and outside and one that became the identified symbol of the museum. The box interior is white, meaning it allows a completely neutral interior that presents an examination and a definition of new boundaries as in a sterilized lab conditions.
On the other hand, as can be clearly seen, the Tel Aviv museum represents a collection of white sealed boxes across from a desolate stage as an unequivocal proof to the alienation of the museum institute toward the outside .It is a product of a monumental and archaic architecture, which automatically turns it into an institute that radiates a frozen aloofness, arrogance and a lack of direct contact with the city life. The contemporary art consistently expresses a growing rejection towards the museum establishment and its disconnected interior which is a suitable edifice for her, at it was expressed at the "Helena" exhibition (stored by the Tel Aviv Museum)the Helena Rubenstein house 2001. In this exhibition the opal glass at the gallery's front window facing Dezingoff Street was replaces with a clear glass and created one of the most exciting moments in the local culture.
The exposure of the interior space to the street and vice versa brought up a reexamination of the perceived concept of the "white box" and the role of the museum space and its appropriate characterization as of today.

This discussion stands at the basis of the proposal, once raised it confronts the museum with the need to re-evaluate special relations between inside and outside, prestige and mundane, museum and city, - and thus forms the central axis along which our proposal was developed.
It is our belief that beyond the obvious issues of the competition, raised in the brief, we must fully exploit the potential embedded in the extension project in order to generate relations of mutual nourishment between the museum and the city. This will enable the museum to assert its cultural authority over the space surrounding it, and to occupy its natural place as the key player on the scale of Tel Aviv cultural platform, and beyond.
The proposal examines the museum expansion based on three parameters at a parallel scale:
(museum as the center of attention) and its location in the city – urban scale
Museum (as an authorized and representative institute) and its relative position in the cultural plaza which represented the city – local scale
Museum (existing site) and the new plaza – building scale
A through examination of these parameters will lead to the conclusion that building in accordance to the given site lines will produce the best possible results because of-3 principal reasons:
1. Blocking the urban flow of the municipal open space and the pedestrians' passage by creating narrow passage that will disconnect the three plazas: Dobvnov garden, the Museum plaza and the Opera House plaza.
2. An extra proximity of the museum to the Opera House and the library will blur the museum conception of a separate entity and will turn the entire culture arena of Tel Aviv to a will turn the five players on the culture forum into a single mesh of white stone clad buildings.
3. Building according to the site lines will hide views of the existing museum coming from the Dobvnov garden instead of connecting; it will cut the museum into two separate parts.
Hence the proposal’s chief action is expressed through the retrieval of the new building back as far as possible from the given southern site line* in order to allow for the introduction of an intermediate negotiating space. Attracting and collecting pedestrian routes from all over the public platform, the intermediate space bridges the height difference through a set of stairs that create un-formal seating places along a prolonged entrance sequence. The intermediate apace allows for the gentle negotiation between interior and exterior to take place and for the projection of the museum content out.
The extension itself is expressed as a consecutive hollow envelope that defines the new museum’s mass in floatation above the public platform. The scheme literally extends the existing museum grid to the west together with the glass box and uses a vertical elevator shaft in order to distinguish between new mass and old (the same way the shafts are used in between volumes in the museum today). Circulation and proportion of the extension scheme relate directly to the existing building and continue its guidelines, though the material proposed for the envelope cladding itself – stained steel plates – creates a clear distinction from the language of concrete and stone that lost its effect because of its extensive use in buildings all around. Inside the envelope are the various exhibition halls that are expressed as volumes behind the screen overlay. The halls are designed as structure free, flexible white boxes allowing or disallowing the penetration of daylight in strict accordance to the specifications of the brief. Video and reading zones are mixed into the intermediate spaces in-between the halls
A screen walls creating a double frontage -the screen made of stainless steel net where behind it stands the hall's wall – it enables a dialog between in & out as it filters the day light coming in and on the other hand allows for a view from the outside on the circulation space and halls. Art could be displayed on the screen and projected during the night time, thus creating a giant (45/17m’) new frame for the museum and an extension of its activity hours late into the night.
The library at the +10.50 level, and the office areas at the +14.00 level appear as a transparent strap that enables the penetration of daylight inside the reading and work spaces.
The artist apartment is equipped with its own elevator that comes up from the education department lobby (Berkotivz street entrance), and is displayed at the frontage as a transparent independent cube that turn the artist residency in the museum to a changeable display against the houses located across the street.
The flexible program makes it possible to change programs between the floors according to the museum demands.

*The decision to go beyond the given site lines is expressed in the floatation of the building 4m’ above the public platform. We are convinced that this is the best scheme possible and that the museum, aided by the TA planning department will be able to quickly promote the required building permits.