Supreme Court Building in Jerusalem / Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects & Ram Karmi

Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

Architects: Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects & Ram Karmi
Location: ,
Client: Yad Hanadiv
Photographs: Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

The schematic design stage for the Supreme Court Building explored many alternatives before a concept was selected for development. The initial approach was largely determined by the existence of three axes which intersect the site.

Floor Plan

The first, is the north/south axis running along the ridge of the hill which connects the Central Bus Station, the Convention Center, the Hilton Hotel, the Parliament, and the Israel Museum. This axis, the most formal of the three, serves as the major public approach to the Government complex. The second, is a green east/west axis that connects Sacher Park, Wohl Rose Park and the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram Campus. The third, is an emerging axis, already evident in the urban fabric, which extends between the old city and The National Precinct. It will eventually connect the Rockefeller museum to the Wohl Park, stringing together many important public spaces. Once this axis is formally articulated, it will strengthen not only the ties between the old and new parts of the City, but also those between its spiritual and secular institutions.

Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

By incorporating these axes into the scheme, the building acts as a single, freestanding object in the landscape which relates both to its immediate environment and to the larger urban context. The building was intentionally positioned at their intersection in order to reinforce the relationship between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Government and to create a public space common to all three.

Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

The Supreme Court building is composed of four seemingly autonomous parts: the library, the courtrooms, the judges’ chambers and the parking structure. They are separated by the north-south and east-west axes of superimposed and intersecting movement that extend throughout the building.


The transition from one section of the building to the next takes place through a grand and dynamic circulation pattern, starting at the entrance level and proceeding to the courtrooms above. This movement is perceived to be a fragment of a longer route in which architectural space mediates between the time and language of today and that of the past. Thus, the procession within the building becomes part of a greater process, whereby the simple order of the structure is experienced as intricate and complex.

Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

The stone facades are not uniform. They carefully preserve memories of historic Jerusalem, a miniature city enclosed by a wall. And yet, they uncover a new and different reality of a more liberated geometry articulated in white plaster planes.


In distancing itself from the stone face of the external wall, light wells of different shapes and sizes are dispersed throughout the building. These voids transform raw light into human light, allowing it to be reflected in a palate of shades. The sequence of movement is followed and enhanced by a sequence of light patterns.

Courtesy of Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

Text provided by Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Supreme Court Building in Jerusalem / Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects & Ram Karmi" 21 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • John Eli

    Location should be published as :
    Jerusalem – Palestine/Isreal

    • Oliver

      at least spell ISRAEL properly…

  • Rocco

    What’s up with Arch Daily posting all of these projects from Occupied Palestine? I think it’s time to boycott this site for kowtowing to the racist zionist regime.

    • Ben

      Even for this you’ll be against Israël ? We’re talking about architecture not about political views. We should talk about Hamas using cement to make bomb and rocket to make you feel happy ?

      You’re the racist there…

      • Mert

        Ben, architecture of this nature is entirely political (why else would the zionist state of israel build their supreme court building in occupied jerusalem if not to express israeli jewish primacy as the law of the land and over the palestinian arabs). Some day soon Arch Daily will regret having published this project for the same reasons it would have if it were around in the early 1940s and publishing Albert Speer’s work.

        And since when has cement been an element in an aerodynamic rocket?

  • gusta

    nice sketch michelangelo!
    but this design seems a little bit out of time, we´re in 2011 right?

    • Heathcliff

      I dont think so ,in my opinion ,architecture is not just a building or a shelter.It ‘s more like a space,which can give you some kind of different experience or feelings.And it will let you look into yourself,Maybe.So we can’t say which is fashion or out of date.

    • D.

      A masterpiece is a masterpiece at any moment in time

  • Kyle

    Poloticts aside I think this is a great building. It’s nice to see something that reflects area.

  • yinangang

    There is a way out

  • bugo

    First of all the building was completed in 1991. Somehow AD forgot to mention it.
    Also the building is built is Western Jerusalem which was never a Palestinian territory and is not even a part of the Palestinians” demand for a state.
    It is a shame that people who have academic training base their view on this conflict from what they hear on TV and don’t make an effort to investigate the matter. I am not saying that the Palestinians don’t deserve a state but if Israel is compared to the Nazis then the USA (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan), Britain (colonialism), Russia (Chechnya, the 20th century) and china are also Nazis.

    • Palestinian

      Israel is more of a criminal state than any of the countries you mentioned. I am a Palestinian, and let me tell you something, we demand all of Palestine from the red sea south to Ras il Naqoura up north. Israel is a racist zionist aparthied state built on stolen land after genocide and ethnic cleansing.

      • Jake in Jerusalem

        Ummm, so Palestine is all of Israel? No Two States for Two People? Considering that Jordan really *IS* Palestine, the maximalist claims by the Palis is just one reason why there is not peace with them – and never will be. P.S. Arafat himself knew that Jordan is Palestine. This is why his first Intifada to Liberate Palestine was in Jordan in Black September, 1970. Nearly 10,000 people were killed in that month (King Hussein wasn’t going to negotiate with a 2-bit murderer like Arafat) and so Arafat correctly decided that it would be easier to get land from the Jews. Jordan IS Palestine.

  • Palestinian Girl

    its a nice building i like it even its from Jewish i don’t care ,, am a Palestinian and i should mention that western Jerusalem is a part of Palestinians territory and it always will be
    with all my respect,, there is nothing called Israel its a mater of time ,, its Palestine its our land we live there ,, any one watch Avatar movie ?? its just the same ,, they came killed our people and took every thing so plz wake up !!

    • Amin

      I am a Palestinian, and I am ashamed how my people are so hateful towards Israel and Jews. With this attitude, we don’t deserve a country. we will destroy ourselves in an instant.

      and by the way – Western Jerusalem was never a part of the Palestinian territories.

      And show me an Arab country which gives such a place of honor to a democratic supreme court. We have a lot to learn from Israel, stop spreading hate.


    It is PALESTINE, and will always be. East Jerusalem is Palestine, West Jerusalem is Palestine, and Jaffa is as Palestinian as Nablus, Hebron, or Ramallah if not more so.

    Acknowledge the genocide and return the land to its owners.

    • Jake in Jerusalem

      So EVERYTHING is Palestine? Considering that Gazan and WB Arabs didn’t even begin calling themselves “Palestinian” until the 1970′s and that there has never in history been a Palestinian Kingdom, country, state or empire, the delusional Arab claims to ALL of Israel are not only crazy, they are also dangerous and deadly. Oh, throughout history, Jerusalem has always been the capital of a Jewish State – and was so about 2,000 years before Mohammed was even born! And you think that it’s “always Palestine”????