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Guest House and Tourism Center

Akko - Israel


A contemporary building within historic context of Old City is a special challenge for the architect.

The following planning strategies were applied in order to assure that the new building is integrated with its surroundings:

1. Morphology— in the densely-built old city courtyards are the “breathing device" of the urban form. Mosques, Churches, Caravanserai—all are built around internal courtyards. The guest house is designed around 3 courtyards.

2. Skyline— the volume of the building is limited to the average high of the urban surroundings 2-3 stories high buildings.

3. Visual axii— linear extension of major building components (arcades, open courtyards) interlink with the dominant monuments of old Akko: Mosque, Citadel, Turrets of city wall.

4. Roofs— all roofs, at all levels have 100% accessibility for visitors. Belvederes, roof promenades and places for celebration compose the “roof scape”.

5. Materials— the dominant building material of the guest house is sand stone. High quality sand stone for buildings is not available any more in Israel. Therefore the sand stone had to be brought from Jordan.

6. Exposure of heritage— every single site in the old city of Akko has presence of  previous periods. The site of the guest house was transversed  by an Ottoman Aqueduct (15-19 centuries) and water cistern and tower. Below ground exist an important crusaders village (12-13 centuries). Therefore the quadrangle courtyard is actually a “horizontal window” looking down towards the relics. The entire space below the guest house is on pilots and can be excavated in the future.The urban cultural landscapes of an Old City such as Akko have "vertical" and "horizontal" dimensions. Contextual integration of this new building with the surroundings is crucial . The building has 76 guest rooms and suites, lecture rooms and tourism and community activities. The central location of this project is by the northern entrance to the city and next to the city walls, enables the guest house to perform as an "interpretation station" and a starting point for cultural tourism walks in and around the Old City.

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