The task of designing a school courtyard in the Negev desert faces the landscape architect with many challenges. In a place where temperatures are extreme in both summer and winter, the only way to insure the use of the outdoor spaces, is by succeeding to create a comfortable microclimate. The partially salty soils and the fact that rainwater is scares limit the choice of vegetation and forces the designer to find creative ways to introduce shade.
In the case of a new school designed for the Ramat Ha Negev Regional Council, there are various shaded areas. The play areas are shaded with sand-colored sails, while the walkways run through a partly covered colonnade. The waiting area for the busses that collect the students at the end of the school day was designed as a freestanding structure covered by a long stretch of fabric. The in-between spaces and marginal areas there planted with trees that are durable to the harsh soil and water conditions.
While the average annual rainfall amounts to only 90 mm a year, floods are not uncommon in the desert Wadis (Arabic and Hebrew term for valleys). The fact that a small wadi separates the school from the road, allowed for the opportunity to celebrate the area’s unique land-flow system and at the same time allow for direct and accessible entrance to the site. This was achieved designing a pedestrian bridge across the wadi.
The challenges of creating a vivid landscape in the desert were met, in this project, by sensitivity to the context and local conditions.
Entrant office name: YBM landscape architecture studio
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape architects
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Yael Bar-Maor, Michal Mer, Architects: Tami Hirsh, Eran Tamir Tawil, Shany Granek
Project location (Street, City, Country): Ramat Ha Negev Regional Council, Israel
Design year: 2015-2016
Year Built: 2016
Credit for all photos (main photo + images 1-9): Aviad Bar-Nes
Credit for plan (image 10): YBM landscape architecture studio