Architecture, Birzeit, Birzeit Museum, Facade, Heneghan Peng, Landscape architecture, Landscape design, Landscaping, Limestone, Limestone exterior, Museum, Museum architecture, Palestine, Palestine Museum, Ramallah, Terraces

Irish architects complete limestone-clad Palestine Museum near Ramallah

Ireland-based architects Heneghan Peng has completed the Palestine Museum in the city of Birzeit, located in the West Bank, near Ramallah which features a stone exterior.

The museum, which is dedicated to Palestinian culture, is set on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and was offered on a long-term release by the neighbouring Birzeit University.

After winning a competition to design the museum in 2011, the architects set to highlight the context in which the museum is set, referencing the traditional terraced landscapes that can be seen in the West Bank, which is directly visible in the design of the building.

“Every element of the landscape of Palestine tells a story of intervention, production, culture, environment and commerce,” said the architects. “Embedded in its terraces is this rich and very particular history.”

“The approach to the Palestinian Museum design was to draw on this history, placing the museum building into its immediate site, yet drawing from this site to tell a larger story of a highly diverse culture.”

The masterplan uses a series of stone-walled terraces that trail the sloping topography of the site, creating a homogenous structure that emerges from the hilltop, perfectly blended with its surroundings.

The monolithic structure features limestone slabs that cover all of the building’s façade as well as roofs. Local trees and flowers have been used as part of the landscaping, in addition to imported species.

“The site is formed through a series of cascading terraces, created by field stone walls which trace the agricultural terraces of the area,” the architects said.

“The theme of the landscape, from the cultural to the native landscape, unfolds across the terraces with the more cultured and domesticated terraces close to the building, the planting changes gradually as one moves down the terraces to the west.”

The overall masterplan covers an area of 3,500m2, containing exhibition spaces, an open-air amphitheatre, indoor and outdoor cafes, classrooms, offices and storage spaces.

Slanted glass windows are set into the exteriors, framed by rows of black wings used for shading.

The museum currently hosts a programme of touring exhibitions, while it works of establishing its own permanent collection.