Netivot is a growing development city, situated approximately half-way between Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva in Israel’s south. During the last decade the population of Netivot has grown enormously, due to natural growth as well as massive absorption of new immigrants. The population is currently made up of a broad cross-section of Israeli society, including established Israeli families, secular and religious groups, and new immigrants from many different backgrounds.
Due to this rapid growth Netivot needs to expand the provision of services, particularly in the social, educational and cultural areas.
A large Cultural Centre consisting of three buildings is planned for a site located at the end of Netivot’s main thoroughfare. This site is surrounded by many educational institutions, and the new complex is designed to provide cultural services to these institutions, as well as to the residents of the city in general.
The proposed Cultural Center is divided into three plots:
1. City Library (built in xxxx - year of completion);
2. Child and Family Center;
3. Founders Museum and Yad Lebanim IDF Memorial Center (which share one plot).
The proposed building for the Founders Museum and Yad Lebanim Memorial Centre is designed to perform two functions (museum and memorial centre), and therefore incorporates two structures. These structures are intertwined, but still stand as two independent buildings.
The design for the Founders Museum divides the building into several principle functions:
• Sculpture garden, which fronts the entrance to the building;
• Museum space;
• Museum courtyard;
• Research Institute;
• Visitor Center, including a cafeteria and souvenir shop.
The Museum is planned in the form of a cube. The cube has three different levels on which three layers of local history are presented within the one cubic space.
The lower ground floor of the cube presents the Bible period and the history of the area of Gerar (“Eretz Gerar” means “The Land of the Fathers” and is the Biblical name for the area surrounding Netivot). In the Museum courtyard attached to this level there will be an archeological exhibit of artifacts taken from ancient sites in the area, as well as Biblical texts inscribed on a massive concrete wall. Inside the central hall on this level there is another massive concrete wall, on which a closed circuit film will be projected detailing the history of how the area was settled. On this floor there is also the Research Institute with a study room, an archive and adminstrative offices.
The entrance floor presents the period of the founding of the city of Netivot. In this area the developmental history of the city will be presented, including its local cultural assets. There will also be an exhibit illustrating the lives and work of prominent local personalities. This floor holds the lobby and visitors meeting point.
The gallery floor presents the spiritual period as characterized by spiritual leaders who worked and continue to work in the town in different fields, such as religion, society and art.
There are a total of four massive concrete walls in the Founders Museum and Yad Lebanim IDF Memorial Centre building. Three of these walls are in the Founders Museum and the fourth is in the Memorial Centre. Of these four walls, two are inside the building and two are situated in courtyards outside. Each wall has a constructive function, and as well as an artistic one. Each wall also has a unique exhibitory function.
The first wall inside the Founders Museum serves as a projection screen for a film about the history of the town. The second indoor wall serves as an exit gate to the archeological courtyard. The third wall in the archeological courtyard holds inscriptions of Biblical verses about the area of Gerar and the period when the forefathers dwelt in this area. Between the “exit gate” wall and the courtyard wall are steel beams from which a concrete ceiling is suspended, providing shade in the courtyard.
In the center of the cubic Founders Museum building stand three steel pillars which support the roof. These pillars also serve as a three-dimensional element within the exhibition, on which will hang exhibits connected to each of the three levels of the structure. These pillars stand perpendicular to a concrete wall beneath which is a groove in the earth, providing an image of the unique geographical typology of the area.
The Yad Lebanim IDF Memorial Center is a one-storey structure. It is designed such that movement through it leads the visitor ceremonially into the memorial spaces via the ground level, following the topography of the site. The structure is planned as a central axis from which the various memorial spaces open off to the sides, in the approach to a rotunda which serves as a Soldiers Memorial Sanctuary.
In the Yad Lebanim Centre there is a massive concrete wall within an inner courtyard on which the names of all the fallen soldiers are inscribed. Between this wall and the projection wall (which is inside the Founders Museum) are situated two steel beams from which a small, glass floored, concrete room is suspended, hovering over a small water pool. This small concrete room serves as an archive for the Yad Lebanim IDF Memorial Center, in which there is a computerized data base containing material about the lives and deaths of the fallen.
The features within the Yad Lebanim Centre described above combine to form a Soldiers Sanctuary. This Sanctuary is a pantheon to the fallen, and functions as a spiritual space which is reached at the end of a difficult ceremonial process. The role of the Sanctuary is to bring together individual memories into one collective memorial and one spiritual experience, before the visitor steps back out into the world of the living.
Note that the repeated beam and wall structure interweaves the two buildings architecturally, historically and mythically.
The Founders Museum and Yad Lebanim IDF Memorial Center serve as exhibitionary buildings whose aim is to strenthen the sense of place of the residents of Netivot, and to present the spirit of the place to visitors from elsewhere.
Deep thought has been devoted to the planning of this project. The building design incorporates many local features, including spatial, geographical, social and spiritual factors which together characterize the uniqueness of the city. The architectural expression of these features results in a building which truly represents the cultural spirit of Netivot.
Founders' Museum & IDF Memorial, Netivot, Israel 2006-2011
Project Architect, Meir Krispin Unbuilt