The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is the most frequented paid attraction in Israel. With more than 750,000 annual guests, it trumps even the almost-ritually visited Masada. In an effort to maintain and improve upon this impressive achievement, the zoo is planning a major expansion that is estimated to result in a 40% increase in the size of the campus by 2025. The most significant of the additions is, unquestionably, Sea Israel: The Gottesman Aquarium.
Raviv Tal Architects, an Israeli firm that specializes in environmental architecture and zoo design, was chosen to create a unique plan for what will become Israel’s largest aquarium. The result is a 7,000 sqm. building set on a five-acre plot that nestles into the topography of the mountainside and minimally disrupts the landscape.
The structure design is conscious both of the natural surroundings and of energy consumption. The façade will make use of cut Jerusalem stone that will mimic the rock formations in the area and the roof will be covered in vegetation to aid in temperature regulation as well as the absorption of rainwater for use within the facility.
The aquarium will set itself apart by focusing on Israel’s four large water bodies. Specimens from the wildlife and ecosystems of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea will make the aquarium uniquely Israeli, much in the same way the zoo was differentiated through its biblical branding. Environment-related topics, like ocean acidification and information about the Red-Dead project, will also feature.
Construction is expected to conclude in spring 2017, and the aquarium will open its doors in fall 2017.