When it is completed next May, The Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University is going to be Israel's first LEED Platinum building. Israel is getting a late start on green building, but it is fitting that an institution dedicated to sharing sustainable knowledge is leading the way.
The Porter School's director, Dr. Arie Nesher, says that the building will serve as a lab for green architecture, the first and only in Israel. The building is designed by a team selected from a group of 40 Israeli architects: Axelrod-Grobman Architects; Chen Architects and architect Joseph Cory (Geotectura Studio). Dr. Nesher wants the building to tell the story of new technologies and they are off to a good start already.
On the southern facade, a wall of solar tubes collect energy from the sun which is used to heat the building in the winter. In the summer, the same wall will act as a shade keeping the interior cool.
Behind the solar wall are porches, which create a space for cool air to surround the building, but also will be used for new companies to demo their ideas.
A green roof and solar panels will sit on the top, providing solar power and rainwater catchment. And the building will also have a wastewater recycling system.
The visual center point of the building is a large ball that appears to be embedded in the facade.
It adds visual interest, but it isn't just for aesthetic appeal. It actually contains the main conference room for the school. Seen here from the lower lobby looking south, it will be a central focus of the space both visually and in function.
The organic, egg-like shape feels appropriate because of how the teaching that will take place here aims to birth and develop innovative solutions, however it also felt a bit like a hovering space ship, which is also fitting due to the forward-looking and futuristic technologies that will be featured here.
The ventilation system is all computer controlled. And large windows on the North and South walls will allow cross-ventilation and give the interior lobby an airy atmosphere.
But the building itself is not the only thing that makes this such an ambitious and important project for Tel Aviv. For forty years, the site was used as a dumping ground of debris. Located within walking distance of a train station, the building will also have a close connection to public transit via a "science walkway" that will tell the story of the site, the building and the goal of the Porter School.
The Porter School is currently offering an International MA program over the course of three full semesters. The focus will look at water issues in the Middle East, climate change and the hydrological cycle in the Meditteranean Basin, policy, law and economics of green building.