Commissioned by Unesco and the Palestinian Authority, Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor’s House of the Mosaics is a design that provides shelter to the Middle East’s largest known mosaic. Hisham’s Palace, home of this colorfully detailed tile mosaic, was built in 700AD and is situated just on the northern outskirts of Jericho, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. The mosaic along with numerous other ruins are currently susceptible to further damage by the elements in addition to possible new development. More details about the House of the Mosaics following the break.
The growth of nearby Jericho both with rapid urban development and agricultural expansion has become a threat to archaeologists access to the ruins, much which have yet to be explored. Discovered in 1873, excavations of the Palace did not begin until the 1930s. Pinpointed as a one of 12 worldwide heritage sites most on the verge of irreparable loss and destruction, Unesco’s Ramallah office in the West Bank hopes to change the fate of this important historic mosaic. Focusing on achieving World Heritage status, the House for Mosaics structure would help establish the importance of this rich archaeological site providing areas for both archaeologists and visitors, who would view the mosaics from a suspended walkway.
The pavilion will feature a lattice of Lebanese cedar beams, reinforced concrete pillars, and lightweight white fabric offering both large amounts of natural light and ventilation within the spaces. “The idea is to recreate the original atmosphere of a leisure city, to make the shelter a landmark of Jericho,” shared Zumthor.
House of the Mosaics has an anticipated construction start date of 2013.