When the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel asked us to propose an addition to the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, we saw it as an opportunity to test the concept of urban nature “by design.” Having collaborated with the client since the first phase in 1998, and through subsequent work on projects of the type that has been dubbed “Green Architecture,” we were curious about the extent to which a building could blur boundaries between urban “civilization” and its natural host. Was there not an inherent hostility between a building intervention and its environment?
Our approach to this dilemma was shaped by the educational mission of the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, which identifies the function of urban built form as ecological infrastructure. We thus tried to conceive of our role as facilitators of urban nature, rather than as its designers. To that end, we emphasized the building’s performative potential, and assembled all the building elements that we could think of that might operate ecologically. The building is an aggregation of these elements, including: Site. The addition is built within the perimeter of an existing shed, and conserves its original wall structure.
Living Roof: A green roof system hosts a diversity of wild flowers, weeds, and vegetation, as well as multiple species of insects and crawlers, all of which manifest the life cycle throughout the year.
Living Walls: Both the stone- and plastic-clad walls integrate wood-lined cavities intended for bird-nesting. The wood cases are invisible from the outside, and vary in size in order to accommodate different bird species. The walls also house bats, solitary bees, and lizards.
Greywater: Greywater is treated in a biological purification pool and is re-used for irrigation.
Programmatically, the addition houses a lecture hall/gallery, offices, and visitors’ shop.
Text provided by Weinstein Vaadia Architects.