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Architecture | Social Architecture

The Nitzan Center

ODO Architects

Short description

Nitzan housing center is the core facility of the Nitzan association, catering to individuals with minor functional challenges along the autistic continuum. It focuses on their integration into the community, offering psychological and social support, while facilitating employment opportunities. Situated in Tel Aviv's residential neighborhood, the center building includes houses residents, administrative offices, caregiver spaces, and a multipurpose hall for resident and community activities. Following an innovative rehabilitation concept, the center accommodates 20 tenants in shared and couple apartments, providing both residence and necessary care and support. Its goal is to seamlessly integrate rehabilitated individuals into society, promoting their overall
The association requested us to create a structure in Tel Aviv that would serve as their association center, embodying their rehabilitative worldview. The building was designed to include residential units for association residents, administrative support areas, therapy rooms for psychologists and social workers, and a central hall for resident gatherings and community interactions. The vision was to promote a rehabilitative approach by integrating residents within a community, fostering a natural, intimate, and welcoming living environment.
Since the site was a public space owned by Tel Aviv municipality, a water purification facility had to be incorporated. Situated in a residential neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv, the sloped site featured an elevation difference of about 2.5 meters between the upper section facing Romema Street and the lower section. Preserving four large ficus trees in the western corner and maintaining an open space in the opposite corner provided an open view of the urban landscape.These key elements influenced the building's design and traffic flow.
The structure was constructed using conventional methods, with a reinforced concrete frame and plaster cladding. Aluminum windows, doors, and balconies were incorporated, while internal courtyards were paved with granulite, creating a cohesive circulation pattern. These materials and techniques are commonly used in residential construction in Israel. The building's character was defined by curved walls, creating a sense of enclosure, with ample windows and natural light enhancing the overall design.
The program for Nitzan House included five shared apartments for couples and roommates in the residential area. The office section consisted of a reception, two offices, and two therapy rooms. The central hall served as a multipurpose space for resident activities and community engagement. By integrating residential units with association activities, a strong sense of community was fostered among the residents
The building design reflects the rehabilitative worldview of the association, emphasizing the creation of a home-like living environment for its residents. It aims to foster personal familiarity and belonging, allowing for social encounters that alleviate loneliness and promote integration within the broader community. This approach differs from traditional rehabilitation concepts that isolate residents and centralize their care in large treatment centers, thereby diminishing their sense of personal intimacy and normalcy.
The center was designed as a rectangular structure positioned in the center of the site, forming an encompassing envelope for all the building spaces, including enclosed, open, and partially open areas. Within this envelope, various openings are strategically placed, tailored to the specific spaces they serve, creating a richness of views and natural light.
The building's location on a sloping site allows for a configuration that results in two upper floors accommodating the residential area, elevated above street level. Meanwhile, one lower floor is partially embedded and opens towards a lower courtyard, serving as the association's central hub.
The building's layout offers a fresh interpretation by incorporating a traditional Mediterranean architectural element—a central courtyard. Within the orthogonal structure, an "inner street" with soft, rounded lines connects two inner courtyards that act as anchors for the project. The main entrance, the front courtyard along the large ficus trees provid an inviting entrance into the building, while the rear courtyard remains hidden until traversing a winding path, revealing an open landscape. The intimate and sheltered inner courtyard facilitates social interactions, human connections, and daily activities among the residents. Each apartment is designed so that the residents' rooms face the exterior of the building, offering maximum privacy, while shared spaces open up to the courtyards and inner street, providing vitality and activity, even for those who struggle to initiate social connections.
The Nitzan Center in Tel Aviv serves as the primary hub for the Nitzan Association's activities in the city, facilitating the organization's mission of supporting and integrating vulnerable populations into the community. It provides essential assistance and acts as a model for acceptance and inclusion of diverse populations with unique needs, promoting social integration through a range of activities. The center also serves as a meeting place for social initiatives focused on community integration and fostering tolerance at both the neighborhood and city levels. Accessible to all, the facility is designed to cater to individuals with physical limitations.
The building's open and welcoming design creates a seamless transition between the inside and outside, fostering a sense of harmony and security within the residential complex. The internal courtyards and open passages encourage residents to engage in social interaction, human connection, and various communal activities, mitigating feelings of isolation.
With a diverse array of windows and openings, the building offers residents a plethora of views, visual connections, and opportunities for encounters, enriching their experience and promoting a flexible mindset. This design approach not only enhances well-being but also supports rehabilitation processes and coping with life's challenges.
The Nitzan Center prioritizes sustainability, adhering to Israeli green building standards. Through strategic design choices, the building maximizes energy efficiency while minimizing its ecological impact.
The building's orientation optimizes natural shading, with long facades facing either north or south, allowing for effective control of sunlight and heat, ensuring comfortable living conditions throughout the day. The "internal street" connecting the courtyards promotes cross ventilation and pleasant airflow, enhancing ventilation and air quality within the building.
Furthermore, the center incorporates sustainable practices such as natural drainage and rainwater utilization, aiming to conserve water and reduce electricity consumption. The lower part of the building is well-insulated, receiving natural light.

Entry details
LocationTel- Aviv, Israel
Studio Name ODO Architects
Lead designerArch. Doron Minin
Design teamDoron Minin , Orna Shatil, Hadas Maman, Lily Ronen, Inna Krupnov
Consultant teamStructural engineer: Gutman Jacob / engineering Green Environmental development : ESD Environmen development & sustainability / Contractor Tepper Hertz :entrepreneurship & construction ltd
Photography creditsSharon Tzarfati
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