Outdoor Design Report 2011: The Deichmann Square 11.08.11

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The Deichmann Square lies parallel to Yitzhak Rager Boulevard, the highway that runs south through Israel's Negev desert into Be'er Sheva. Created by Chyutin Architects, it was designed to be Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's gateway to the city.

The square is partitioned into a cement grid. Wide strips of north-leading pavement are alternate with narrower bands, creating a lattice of thick and thin rectangular slabs. Occasional bars of grass, horsetail hedge and purple-flowering jacaranda fit into the broader bands; white strip-lights in the narrower. The space is completed by bare slab benches.

"We decided that the main material would be concrete so that it would unite the heterogeneous appearance of all the different buildings in its environment," said project architect Bracha Chyutin. "I've seen students just lie there on their backs. It's really nice that they want to just suntan or sit there."

This simplicity of materials and purity of design is typical of Chyutin Architects and a reflection of the practice's guiding ethos – "achieving a lot with a minimum". The grey concrete panels, installed because paler materials reflect light too brightly, are plain and so shift focus onto the straight lines of lilac flowerbeds and grasses. The Deichmann Square's linear, block colour oblongs drop precisely into formation like Tetris pixels.

The square is Chyutin's first pure landscape project, although the practice has relevant experience. "We insist that in every public building we do, we also do the landscape," said Chyutin. "We think that these two should relate to each other and that you can't separate them."

Designed along with the square were a gallery and teaching block to border the space, although these have yet to be built. Without additional funding, they are likely to remain unfinished. It is a frustrating outcome for Chyutin, who is responsible for the university's wider development plans.

"I hope it won't be just the square. I can't guarantee anything because it was already planned – the building and the entrance ... everything was planned. But, you know, things are rather slow in Israel.

 

Image

Sharon Yeari

 

Words

Oli Stratford

quotes story

We insist that in every public building we do, we also do the landscape

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