Foster + Partners Completes Safra Center for Brain Sciences in Jerusalem

Foster + Partners Completes Safra Center for Brain Sciences in Jerusalem

Foster + Partners has recently completed the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, a new research facility within the Hebrew University of Jerusalem campus. The design features an array of flexible laboratories arranged in two parallel wings around an open central courtyard, which recreates the surrounding landscape through its citrus trees and water stream. The distinctive facade screen represents the neurological brain structure, as drawn by Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal at the beginning of the 20th century.

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View of interior courtyard. Planted with citrus trees and a man-made stream along its length, the courtyard forms a quiet, reflective space and a cool microclimate, which can be further mediated by a retractable ETFE roof.. Image © Studio Harel Gilboa

The new research facility dedicated to the exploration of the brain is a mix of social spaces and laboratories designed to cater to the scientific community and the wider public. Located within a natural landscape, the project, which will become a gateway to the University, incorporates biophilic design principles and features an important social space. The heart of the scheme is the central courtyard, which establishes new circulation routes within the campus and forms a cool microclimate through the use of greenery and a central water feature.

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The dynamic social spaces are designed to attract exceptional scientists, as well as to foster an interest in the centre’s research activities within the wider community.. Image © Studio Harel Gilboa

The project has a progressive social agenda that has been applied at an urban scale, creating a center for research and learning that is truly inclusive. The new building is located just off the main pedestrian spine of the University, and its façade invites exploration, drawing people inside to learn about the research activities. - Darron Haylock, Partner, Foster + Partners


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The laboratories feature a flexible design that can accommodate future needs within the research process. The twenty-eight facilities are linked by social hubs, designed to "encourage informal interaction and exchange of ideas". The ground floor comprises teaching facilities, a 200-seat auditorium, a library and a café, as well as a gallery space for the display of brain-related art. The project's environmental strategy incorporates various passive techniques to reduce energy use. The building's orientation minimises solar gain, upper levels are shaded by the cast aluminium screen, while translucent ETFE canopies provide further passive cooling. 

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Close up of laser cut facade screen. It comprises a cast aluminium screen, with a non-repetitive representation of the early twentieth century drawings by Spanish neuroscientist, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, illustrating the neurological brain structure. Image © Studio Harel Gilboa

  • Foster + Partners Design Team Norman Foster: David Nelson, Spencer de Grey, Stefan Behling, Darron Haylock, Matthew Hayhurst, Parul Singh, Kadri Kaldam, Apostolos Despotidis, Joana Santos, Josef Musil
  • Foster + Partners Engineering Team: Roger Ridsdill Smith, Xiaonian Duan, Piers Heath
  • Collaborating Architect: YBGSNA - Yuval Baer Galit Shifman Nathan Architects

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Cite: Andreea Cutieru. "Foster + Partners Completes Safra Center for Brain Sciences in Jerusalem" 12 Aug 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/966667/foster-plus-partners-completes-safra-center-for-brain-sciences-in-jerusalem> ISSN 0719-8884
Exterior view. The building has been carefully sited amid the natural rugged setting of the campus.. Image © Studio Harel Gilboa

福斯特事务所新作:耶路撒冷脑科学中心Safra,‘突触’立面

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