Studio PEZ along with Zarhy Architects have won the international competition to design the District Courthouse Complex in Jerusalem, Israel. The new 40,000 sqm complex, which will contain all court facilities (aside from the supreme court), will act as a “new landmark in Jerusalem," according to Daniel Zarhy and Pedro Peña Jurado of Studio PEZ.
Their winning proposal - "City of Justice" - was praised by the jury for being "alive, interesting, and [...] designed with much attention to detail." By re-interpreting the courthouse typology and dividing the program into different masses, the architects not only avoided a monolithic appearance and achieved a human scale, but also allowed for phase-by-phase project execution, an aspect which was favoured by the jury.
The District Courthouse is a part of a current construction boom in the capital, which includes a new high-rise tower by Daniel Libeskind and the National Library by Herzog & De Meuron. More images, drawings, and the architects' description after the break...
From the architects. Since early civilization, the history of the courthouse and the city intertwine. The courthouse has always been an important urban artifact, both in Roman cities and in the Jewish tradition. This is also the case with the New Courthouse in Jerusalem.
The Courthouse is composed of 2 main parts: the plinth – containing the communal public functions, and the different courthouse buildings stemming from it.
The plinth forms a continuous façade to the street and creates a sense of transparency. It contains the main entrance and the communal public functions (secretaries of the different courts, library, cafeteria etc) and integrates the courthouse into the city. Above it the various courthouses “grow”. It is characterized by a clear circulation scheme which leads to easy orientation and a sense of place. The different functions are organized around a central “street”, penetrated by a spacious void that connects the three plinth levels and the vertical circulation systems are located in a prominent location creating a feeling that the building is welcoming, clear and not threatening.
The courthouses are articulated as separated buildings growing from the plinth, corresponding to the brief that called for such a division. Each court has its own identity, while still being part of the whole, the city of justice. The division also allows the project to be executed in phases.
The New Jerusalem Courthouse integrates into the Jerusalem context and to the New Masterplan for the entrance quarter to the city. The delicate balance between the “building blocks” challenges the monolithic image of justice and creates an iconic building on one hand and human scale and a modest image on the other.
The courthouse halls are located in the center of each of the different building blocks, the judges chambers on once side and the circulation shafts for the public on the other. The division to the different buildings creates a strong relationship between interior and exterior, between the building and the city. This strategy creates an opportunity to introduce filtered daylight into most of the courthouse halls, as well as to create open terraces overlooking the views of Jerusalem.
The New Jerusalem Courthouse is a welcoming building that creates an accessible and open environment to the citizens, one that does not wish to punish them but rather to emphasize their rights. The building becomes the centerpiece of the new entrance quarter masterplan while relying and continuing the Jerusalem building tradition. It is a building where all individuals that cross its gates are welcomed with transparency and equality before the law.
Architecture: StudioPEZ + ZARHY Architects: David Zarhy, Pedro Peña, Daniel Zarhy with Noa Rapoport, Carmel Avidani, Omer Bar Orian Structure: S. Ben Avraham Sustainability: Barak Pelman Model: Jantien Roozenburg