Throughout the course of his career, the forms present in Zvi Hecker's work have undergone significant changes – from the rigidly geometric shapes of his early work such as his Ramot Polin housing and Synagogue in the Negev Desert, to his more freeform recent works like the Jewish School he designed in Berlin. Hecker, though, sees all of his works as both consistent with each other and individual, describing himself as “an artist whose profession is architecture.” In this interview from his “City of Ideas” column, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Hecker about his inspirations and the ideas that underpin his career.
Vladimir Belogolovsky: I visited the Heinz-Galinski school here in Berlin where your original idea came from the pattern of sunflower seeds; it was not the first time you used it. Could you talk about your fascination with the sunflower, and why you think it is a good guiding principle for a building?
Zvi Hecker: Well, one can’t qualify it as a blueprint for every building. This one was the first Jewish school built in Berlin after the Holocaust. Coming from Israel, I wondered—what could I bring to the children of Berlin? A flower is a natural present and a sunflower is a common flower in Israel. What began as a sunflower evolved into a series of continuously changing images. Already in the construction stage, it looked to some like a kind of a small city with winding streets and courtyards, not really a building. Later on when the schematic model of the load-bearing walls was made, we were surprised to find out that “pages of an open book” were hidden in our design. We didn’t realize it earlier—in Hebrew, school is Beth-Sefer, which literally means “house of the book.”