Green Design

Rendering of future Umm el-Fahem Museum of Contemporary Art

The environmental building approach is implemented in the museum design in a number of central issues:

Preservation of Natural Resources: The wadi was taken into consideration as a dominant element of planning around the building and inside it. Preservation and development of the natural thicket in the wadi is a core goal of the museum’s construction, as well as a minimal footprint on less than one-third of the area dedicated for the site, including phased-in expansion of the new museum building in the future. Integration of thicket areas will be an integral part of the building.

Shading / light penetration: The museum design allows for controlled penetration of natural light into the building, through filtering elements that contribute to the dispersion of light in all parts of the building. The use of Mashrabiyas (and other filtering elements such as skylights) contributes to increased energy efficiency of the building.

The skylights are planned to be equipped with a slat system controlling the penetration of light, up to complete closure. The vegetation (around the building and within the internal patio) will also contribute to energy efficiency and serve as an additional filter within the light penetration control system. Additional vegetation, planned for around the building, will assure shading of the museum walls during the hot summer season and will allow the absorption of the sun's radiation in the winter.

The building envelope: The envelope will be constructed of GRC, a compound cement-based material that has an efficient thermal mass that saves on heating or cooling energy costs in the museum. The envelope will be one layer in a multilayered wall system. The cavities that will be created between the various walls and the external layer will serve as thermal insulation. Furthermore, the envelope will be painted in a bright, light reflecting color, thus increasing energy savings.

Green roof: The roof of the building will be covered with a green path that serves as a promenade and observation point over the landscape. The skylights will also allow glances into the exhibition spaces. The green roof will also constitute an integral part of the communal-cultural axis that will be open to the general public without entering the museum proper. The education wing, too, will be located on this level. This will allow group activity in a green environment within the premises of the building.

The benefits of the green roof find their expression both on the acoustic level—improved sound absorption and noise insulation; and on the energy level—reduction of energy usage for heating in the winter, and for cooling in the summer. Because of the unique topography, the roof can be viewed from various points on the site, and will constitute a fifth front with additional aesthetic value.