The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Concept: The Polanski Building Van Leer is a 4 stories building for researchers with writing & research scholarships. The façade of the building is comprised of 3 types of material. Glass screen walls which brings natural light inside. Walls of Jerusalem stone- opaque and insulating. And wood beams which allow for filtered light to enter the building. Since natural light is such an inseparable part of the building, our concept was imitating the effect even when there is no sun. 

Challenge: Creating an environment which generates the illusion of natural light while keeping the reflecting ceiling plan, as "clean" as possible. This means using minimum fixtures that are small and uniform. Since the ceilings height vary in different parts of the building, it was our agenda to balance the invisibility of the light fixtures with the needs of the structure.

Solution: The heart of the building is a central open space that admits natural light into the public spaces surrounding it. The lighting was designed in a way that the skylight and big illuminated walls create the supplementary light for daylight even when it is dark. To maintain a clean line we chose fixtures which have the same light intensity and color, making sure they all have a similar look. Various lighting solutions were fitted for the different functions in the building:

Auditorium- Linear lighting accentuates the lines of the wooden ceiling.

Convention hall- Lighting stripes perpendicular to the narrow windows to create a balance in the space.

Lobby & Cafeteria- A seemingly random scatter of recessed fixtures in the ceiling.

Passageways- Wall washers placed according to the varying ceiling heights.

Conference rooms- Elongated lighting emerging from the unique wooden front.

Gardens- A lattice wall is lit by a linear fixture from the bottom up.

30 researchers rooms- The bookcase is lit by florescent linear fixtures and on every table a desk lamp is placed to set a pleasant "home like" working environment.

Library- The library contains bookcases on all the walls. Recessed wall washer lighting fixtures highlight the books shelves and serve as the central lighting in the space. In addition, on every table there is a desk lamp for task lighting.  


public buildings




Israel, Jerusalem


Client:Polanski Building Van Leer

Architect/Designer: Chyutin Architects 

Photo: Assaf Pinchuck

related projects