No To Violence Shelter, Israel

This will be the charity’s first purpose-built shelter, as well as accommodating its administrative headquarters, and has been designed to house families from diverse ethnic and geographical backgrounds, including Arab, Israeli, Ethiopian, Russian and Ukrainian women and children.

The site for the shelter measures 1600 square metres and is located within a quiet residential neighbourhood and surrounded by a mix of private residential houses and blocks of flats. The brief specified a location within reach of local community resources, i.e. stores, jobs, health clinics, schools, parks and other green spaces, counselling centres and recreational facilities.

The garden is filled with natural light, with plants and shaded areas creating a feeling of refuge, yet also of openness and variation. This green courtyard plays a crucial role as a meeting place for the residents. It also serves a functional purpose, providing optimum visual connections between the house mother and the families, as well as between the women and their children. It is surrounded by an internal corridor (or ‘street’) which connects the inside and outdoor spaces and creates a free-flowing space in which women and children can interact, while at the same time enabling mutual sight lines between them and the staff.

The building, designed as a small village, accommodates a variety of functions. On arrival, each new family is given a small ‘house’ that is part of the larger building. In order to allow the families to conduct a normal daily routine in the shelter, it was important to separate the ‘houses’ from communal functions. The internal corridor (‘street’) connects the ‘houses’ to the various facilities in the building, such as the dining hall and nursery. The nursery is physically separated from the larger building, which allows it to function as an ordinary nursery would, with an independent daily routine.

The palette of materials for the shelter will be sustainable and durable, with special attention paid to the landscaping scheme, donated by the USA based landscape architect Eran Schlesinger designed to feature indigenous planting and include a designated herb garden for use by kitchen staff.

The building’s environmental strategy will be highly sustainable – building materials will be locally sourced, key areas will be naturally ventilated and mechanical ventilation systems will be highly energy efficient. The shelter will also use solar panels to heat all water.