First look: Zumthor shelters historic Jericho mosaic
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has designed a shelter to protect the Middle East’s largest mosaic
The Pritzker Prize winner, who will also design this year’s Serpentine Gallery pavilion, was commissioned by Unesco and the Palestinian Authority to conceive a shelter for the mosaics inside Jericho’s Hisham’s Palace, while also keeping them open for tourists.
The proposed House of the Mosaics will protect the multi-coloured, intricate tiles from the weather, while showcasing one of the richest archeological sites in the Palestinian territories.
Zumthor told the French news agency AFP: “The idea is to recreate the original atmosphere of a leisure city, to make the shelter a landmark of Jericho.”
His proposals include an 18m-tall structure with a lattice of Lebanese cedar beams, resting on pillars of reinforced concrete. It will be covered in a white fabric to provide natural light and ventilation.
Visitors would view the mosaic from a suspended walkway.
Giovanni Fontana, architect and cultural officer at Unesco’s Ramallah office in the West Bank, hopes the shelter will help the whole site achieve World Heritage status.
Jericho is believed to be some 10,000 years old and is considered one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. The palace, built circa 700AD, was discovered in 1873 though excavations did not start until the 1930s.
The project is expected to cost between £6-£9 million and construction is set to start in 2013.