Foster + Partners completes Safra Center for Brain Sciences in Jerusalem

Exterior view of The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences. The building has been carefully sited amid its natural rugged setting. Photo courtesy Studio Harel Gilboa Musicians

Foster + Partners has completed the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a research facility for the scientific exploration of the brain.

The building is arranged as two parallel wings around a central courtyard. The upper levels house 28 highly flexible laboratories linked by social hubs. At ground floor, there are teaching facilities, a 200-seat auditorium, a library, café, and a publicly accessible gallery for the display of brain art.

The courtyard at the heart of the scheme unites these different functions, establishes new circulation routes through the campus and draws the greenery of the surrounding landscape into the building. Planted with citrus trees and with a water feature along its length, the courtyard forms a quiet, reflective space and a cool microclimate, which can be further mediated by a retractable roof.

The center’s progressive environmental strategy makes use of passive techniques to naturally reduce energy use. Local materials, such as Jerusalem stone, are used where possible, and the building is orientated east-west to reduce solar gain.

The upper three levels are shaded by a perforated aluminum screen, with a pattern derived from the neurological brain structure. Further passive cooling of the building is provided by translucent canopies to the west and east, which form distinctive markers for the main entrances.

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