Plesner Architects was founded in 1972 by Ulrik Plesner in Jerusalem and is now run by his two daughters, Daniella and Maya Plesner since 1995.
The firm undertakes a wide array of projects such as public buildings, educational, landscape, hotels, private residences, city planning, and parks, both in Israel and worldwide. Their distinct style has won them multiple local and international awards, such as the Rechner Prize, the Rokah Award, the Design Award “ot haizuv”, and many more.
Plesner Architects aim to prioritize architecture towards the people. They believe in the efficiency of the function of the building, which would allow its users to be able to explore its fullest potential as a space made specifically for them. Form to follow function, they communicate the aesthetics and form of the structure to be developed on strategic planning processes, adept to both the user, and the context itself. Thereby, ensuring that the work they create caters to both the physical body of the user and his soul – to provide a holistic, multidimensional home-like experience that surpasses all limitations.
1. American International School
When the original American International School, established around 30 years ago, grew too big for its facilities meant to cater to the needs of the community in Kfar Shmaryahu, it was decided for it to be redesigned on a site in Even-Yehuda.
Plesner Architects designed a school comprising seven different buildings: The Elementary, Middle, and High School Buildings, Library, Arts building with an Auditorium, the Gym, and the Cafeteria, with sports grounds, as well as a pool. The essence of the project lies in a central open courtyard, rich in trees, water, and shaded walkways all around. It also happens to the cerebral meeting point, thus making it the living, green heart of the whole school. The school consists of no corridors, but rather open covered paths which provide share and protection from the rain and sun, and are the source of communication and circulation throughout. The sense of openness is catered to with the large, tiled roofs that extend shaded outdoor spaces for play. These stealth plane wings-like shaded features also allow natural cross-ventilation for the classes, encouraging conviviality in the school. Moreover, the architects created a low overall skyline, to ensure the design complements, and not obtrudes the surrounding landscape.
2. Six Senses Shaharut Hotel
Negev Desert, Israel
Located in the Israeli desert of Negev, the Six Sense Shaharut Hotel is a boutique hotel, designed for Negev & Galilee Enterprise Ltd., covering an area of 9,000 square meters. With very extensive, and specialized spatial programs, it comprises 60 rooms, a central building with a lobby, restaurant, yoga spaces, central spa, administration area, and two pools.
A modern interpretation of nomadic structures of the Nabatean Community, who carved their city Peta into the rocky cliffs of Jordan, the concept of the project revolves around reviving and celebrating the spirit of the desert. This is certainly why Presner Architects half dug each building into the land, thus grounding it to its context, and keeping the desert skyline clear and uninterrupted. This was also achieved by employing local craftsmen and using thatched roofs, and ceiling-to-floor windows, which orient views expansively towards the valley and the desert. Even the material used for the construction itself is harnessed from its surroundings. Limestone walls, pergolas, ceramics, and local stone, a very distinct type found in this desert, categorizes the identity of the walls and roofs of the hotel. Furthermore, a consciously circumscribed base palette of stone, wood, copper, and fabric, allows reflecting the natural surroundings into the interior of the hotel.
3. Mandel Institute for Social Leadership
Ben Gurion University, Israel
The “Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel Center”, designed by Presner Architects, intends to cater to the academic MBA Programs of the university in social leadership as a research unit. The idea of the building, as one enters it from the plaza of the university, is based upon an internal richly planted courtyard, with a large extended shade that allows for rest and communication. The modernist approach taken for a courtyard allows for a wide variety of opportunities for sitting and meeting areas that can be seen throughout the design.
The elevations of the building are covered in fiber-cement panels, which is low maintenance, neat, “green” material, which greatly enhances the clean and sustainable look of the structure. To create a pleasant, breathing space, a ‘home’ for the inhabitants of the university, the design looks after different needs of sitting and discussion spaces and establishes an environment that can inspire creative problem-solving thinking and new ideas.
4. Nautical Training Center
Tel Aviv, Israel
The Nautical Training Center, designed by Plesner Architects, accommodates multiple activities, like rowing, canoeing, and other water-sports activities, as well as teaching inland water sports. Its extensive program facilities include a boathouse, clubrooms, changing rooms, fitness rooms, classrooms, trainers and management offices, and a restaurant that overlooks the river.
The concept of the center, designed as a beached boat, provides reverence to the sky and has strong environmental sensibilities attached to it. Similar to other projects, its projected 3 meters shades ensure heat and light protection to all its openings. The upturned “keel” which is a highlight of the form itself, not only caters to protection from excessive heat but encourages ventilation to the interior of the building itself. Moreover, with the knowledge of the severe flooding at the Yarkon River, the main floor is designed above flood level, thereby protecting all vulnerable services from the wate
5. Desert Star Campus
A campus dwelling designed for a new generation of Bedouin leadership, the Desert Stars’ mission is to change reality in the Bedouin Community. Its essence is a central meeting area that interconnects different functions and allows for a multitude of activities. The cerebral axis of the form continues along the avenue of the structure and ends at the open Amphitheatre that projects towards the view.
The axis is vital for the planning: it divides the campus into two parts; the northern part consists of the main school area, and sports zones, while the southern area is where the living facilities are located. The traditional Bedouin custom of hospitality, gatherings, and hosting with round sitting areas amid trees, and a tea bonfire is what inspired Plesner Architects for the meeting areas. The round form of these spaces is reflected in the varying skylights and the auditorium as well. With such subtle and direct symbolic reference to tradition, the idea of the design is to create a relationship with history and allow the inhabitants of the space to appreciate the Bedouin culture.
6. Kinneret Zmora Bitan Offices
Consisting of a huge library display of 18 meters length and 12 meters height that welcomes the visitors at the entrance, the office interior design is indeed a very wholesome one. The books are all specifically placed with their covers facing the viewer, thus increasing accessibility. As one enters the lobby, there are office floors that open up with walls as double-sided libraries and glass. Another very eccentric feature is the green wall, a breather, that cuts through the common areas and brings in light, air, and a sense of nature.
7. The National Mint Building
With the original National Mint Building sought to be renovated to accommodate the modern needs of high-tech work of the present day, Erel Margalit, founder of a venture capital firm, aspired to bring young people and life back into the city and to locate his offices and high-tech industry firms in the building, thus converting an otherwise industrial building into a high-tech work environment, which included a modern electromechanical system. Thus, the Plesner Architects established two main features of the building; the two elevations were worked upon as a pure preservation project, while the form was enhanced, spaces added, to add life to the building by incorporating gardens, meeting spaces, hereby catering to the social life associated with the building.
8. Beit Gabriel Cultural Center
Sea of Galilee, Israel
Overlooking the south shores of Lake Galilee with a large shaded terrace looking north to Mount Hermon, Beit Gabriel was donated as a cultural and social center for this remote area of Israel. The design of the cultural center is based upon a pedestrian walk, with a consciously alternating heavily planted courtyards, views of the lake, theatre/concert hall, exhibition spaces, cinema, and library, conference room, main cafeteria, and a meeting place.
9. Alin Beit Noam
Elga Campus, Ilanot Forest, Kadima
The Elga Campus is a work-in-process, a multifaceted campus in the Sharon region, meant to serve people with different abilities, with the dignity and equality they deserve. The campus is intended to provide the necessary opportunities for interaction between people with, and without disabilities.
The extremely well-thought campus design comprises a housing for the disabled, and the abled, daycare center, sports center, including two pools, a gym, Paralympic sports hall, classrooms, administration, research wing, auditorium, art gallery, restaurant, paramedical center, sports park, and omega.
A dwelling and ad administration unit built amid large boulders, in the jungle land area of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is built by the laborers of the area itself. The idea of the design is to follow a full-size mockup of white sticks and strings, made from materials from the vicinity, polished coconut tree trunks, clay floor tiles, burnt in a village kiln, and the hardwood timber for the roof. In consideration of the especially warm climate of high humidity, the house can be opened up to allow for ventilation.
11. The Castle Arcades Town Center Project
A commercial center located in the middle of an old town near Copenhagen, the form, essence, and concept of the project is derived from the personality of the town itself – with a low skyline and made up of a multitude of small buildings, introverted towards a large congregational space, and a large planted roof garden.
The center is an extension of the old pedestrian network of the town, where it connects with the commercial areas, allowing for easy flow of ventilation and fresh air. It is an extremely popular center because of its lively atmosphere and has allowed Plesner Architects to be a recipient of “Best European Commercial Center 1993” by ICSC, the International Council of Shopping Centers.
12. GGFBM, Ben Gurion University
The Beer-Sheva University Business School building designed by Plesner Architects consists of classrooms, auditoriums, laboratories, and offices, to provide maximum flexibility to meet any future expansions, which is important in educational buildings. There is no fixed internal structure, thus allowing flexible, user-oriented freedom for future arrangements. The shade present allows for protection against hot and arid climates, as the building is itself designed to avoid direct exposure of the sun to its windows and open structures. The highly effective and strategic planning allows all sorts of activities in every space, including technological ones, hereby ensuring the effective use of space.
13. Technological Educational Campus
The Technological Educational Campus, present on a mountain in the Galilee, has been designed as a move towards creating a high-quality education for the industry sector in Israel.
The campus, which is under construction, includes workshops, classrooms, auditoriums, a high school, management building, a cafeteria and is well connected into the landscape itself, along the mountain, to allow the whole view of the scenery to come into play, and when seen from outside, it would so appear as though the campus integrates into the mountain skyline itself.
14. The Pagoda House
Designed as a unique building, in a “dream house” style in 1924, the Pagoda House was declared by the authorities to be of the highest classification for preservation. The renovation carried out for Plesner Architects improved most of its original elements. It also buttressed the structure, re-plastered it, added new wooden windows, and new oak pagodas. The highly coordinated and discussed design, materials, details, executions are all unique to Israeli standards and are an exemplary example of quality in Europe today.
15. The Zionist Confederation Building
The preservation and the restoration of the Zionist Confederation Building comprises of offices, an auditorium, meeting rooms, and a restaurant. It was initially a crusader chapel, but after many changes, is now a building conducting significant administrative work.