Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cool old-new Arabic building wins award

The “green” building in Sakhnin.
In the unrelenting Middle East sun, one thing is very clear when you build a new home: it must work with the elements. Standing the test of time are traditional Arabic buildings that kept families and worshippers cool for centuries, long before air conditioning was invented.

A new “green” teaching and research center in the Israeli-Arab town of Sakhnin showcases some of the best traditional approaches to construction in the hope that it will inspire modern building practices. And on a less concrete level, the building is seen as a “green bridge” between the Arab and Jewish communities.

The Union of the Mediterranean recently awarded it first prize in a competition on energy conservation.

Architects anywhere can pick up on traditional Arab building techniques as a means to improve building efficiency, says Hussein Tarabeih, director of the Towns Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ) for the six Arab-Israeli towns in the Beit Natufa Valley in the Lower Galilee. This is the association that commissioned the building.

“We have a lot of energy-saving elements built into the building,” Tarabeih tells ISRAEL21c. “And it was important for us that we use the community. We conducted a survey asking them what they wanted and involved the older people quite a bit. The truth is that much of the knowledge on the traditional elements has been lost so we had to learn from the beginning. But this is one of the purposes for creating this building. We wanted to preserve the old traditional techniques.” --  Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c

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