Heirloom Seeds


Flora in a community environment is an important factor in shaping its identity. However, the process of unifying communities and cultures into similar global characteristics leads to loss of biodiversity. Colors, shapes and flavors disappear into hybrid varieties that are resistant to automated farming, transport and marketing. The Building, which is located next to the botanical garden at the Mikvah Israel Agricultural School, preserves rare seeds who have become obsolete and replaced by engineered hybrids. Apart from researchers and professionals, the building is also accessible to the public and to anyone who wishes to preserve seeds.

The garden is an integral part of the building and used for cultivation and research. The Building provides all the necessary infrastructure for seed processing, storage, breeding and research. Areas requiring different controlled climatic conditions are located side by side allowing for the entire lifecycle of the plant under one roof.

To facilitate different climatic environments, spaces requiring controlled temperature, humidity and light are placed in the center of the building in sealed rooms. A transparent envelope of glass and steel wraps them together, and in the intermediate areas between the rooms and the envelope the public areas are located, illuminated by natural light. Protected underground spaces serve as a bank in which seeds are stored for a long-term. The element of time is an essential factor in the building, which enables its existence. The building is a static and permanent object that contains changing dynamic processes that depend on the life cycle of the plant and the need to replenish the stock of stored seeds. The building creates a protected environment that protects a “treasure” and at the same time allows the implantation of the practice of preservation, access to biodiversity and in effect preserves our sources of food, heritage and culture.


Who influences you graphically?

The work of Éva Le roi inspires me. Her drawings are somewhere between fantasy and reality, and create unique results. Her manual graphic technique and shunning of digital media to create precise geometric shapes helps her generate an interesting outcome.

How important was the plan of the original botanical garden at the site designed in 1929 in the development of the project both conceptually and also in its drawing language?

The botanical garden was one of the main reasons for choosing Mikve-Israel as the building site. The garden, planed by Yechiel Segal, was designed under the influence of a French garden motive- the clear orthogonal segmentation, and an English garden motive- organic “natural” lines. The combination of the two created an “organized nature”. Segal’s garden plan was a guideline for my design of the building, that is also planned as an orthogonal system incorporating the natural processes of the plant life cycle.

Segal applied his drawing language of black minimalist lines for creating a very live vivid world, which was the same graphic goal I adopted in the project language.

What prompted the research?

I have met an Israeli seed saver named Harel Weiss, He introduced me to the seed savers community world. I started in a research on the working environment of seed savers. I have studied deeply the stages of seed preservation and the necessary infrastructures for the process. I visited the Israeli seed bank and after analysis many other seed bank buildings around the world I concluded that there is a lack of such institution that is accessible for the public in Israel. I decided to plan a building that will house every person that is interested in preserving and protecting rare seeds.

Could you expand a bit further on the notion of time? How did this influence the design and development of the project?

On the upper ground floors of the building, plants in their different life stages are stored next to each other, existing in an infinity cyclicality. On the underground floors of the building, seeds are stored for long-term, frozen at one historic point of time until they are taken out for re-planting. The upper ground is cyclic in time, while the underground is protected and time is stopped.

The building’s design is adjusted to the time element by designing a more diverse spaces on the upper floors that have easy circulation between them, while the underground floors are repetitive and have less traffic on a daily basis.

What defined the drawing as primary means through which you reveal the proposal? What dictated the use of the classic orthagonal projections?

Drawing is a tool for creating space in a precise realistic way. It gives me the freedom to create what I want, with the knowledge that the measures and proportion are right and the reference to human scale is working. Simplifying the image to lines leaves some room for imagination. One person can look at a plan and imagine a space a bit different than the other person looking at the same plan. The drawing states parameters that are unchangeable like the geometry, size, proportion etc. information that is not mentioned are left for interpretation like the colorfulness, light entrance and textures that I chose to leave unknown.

When talking about such vivid colours as those of nature, why the monochromatic palette?

The monochromatic palette have a unifying characteristic, an alignment of everything. Black and white representing the exists and the non-exists. Sometimes it’s the black that represent the exists and sometimes it’s the white.That is how I designed the space at first, later I stayed with the same graphic language until the final outcome of the images.

As the building content is constantly changing, so are it’s colors according to the flora that resides at a certain point of time, the season of the year and the plant developmental stage. This is why choosing a certain color palette will not describe the building in it’s right colors.