The Magistrate's Court in Ashkelon - The Magistrate's Court in Ashkelon, completed in September 2012, is located on Ben- Gurion Blvd. one of the main avenues leading out to the sea. Owing to the building's significance in the city grid and public realm, it was important to distinguished it from its surroundings.
The design takes advantage of the topography of the site, elevating the ground floor from the street level, allowing one to “rise” to the building.
The transparent southern facade, being the main facade, is an essential design feature, breaking the mass of the building. Each floor has its own shading solution, but the whole of the facade maintains the transparency that is so important for the judicial system.
The building's area is 5,500 sqm, consisting of 11 court halls, judges' chambers, intern rooms, public reception halls, and detention cells.
The planning was based on the complex programming and detailed instructions of the client. The courthouse serves various crowds: judges, court workers, the general public and detainees. The design must assure the best possible conditions for each one of these crowds, while simultaneously segregating the movements and gathering places from each other.
These demands are the core of the design complexity arising from the building's program, and The Magistrate's Court in Ashkelon meets all of the above requirements.
The judges arrive from the subterranean parking directly to their chambers, which are located on the quiet northern facade.
The general public approaches the building, via the gardened ramp or staircase through a covered area, and into a lowered security area. After passing the security check, the space opens dramatically and the crowd enters the light filled central hall.
The detainees arrive in a police car into the discreet basement floor, where they are led vertically and directly to the court rooms.
On the courtroom floor, the public waits in a naturally lit area, with an open view to the city, and to the other floors of the building. The waiting area, was defined as a “hall of lost footsteps”, describing the restlessness of the people awaiting their court session. The design took this into consideration and made those spaces open and well lit.
The courtrooms also get natural lighting from high windows, so even in the closed halls you can sense the passing of the daytime.
The building is covered with two shades of stone, the darker of which differentiates the base from the upper floors. The dominant color of the courts is white, while the courtroom doors and furniture are in an extenuating walnut toned wood, which gives a sense of dignity.
The Ashkelon Magistrate Courthouse is a building of excellence in contemporary architecture, answering the requirements of the client, and making a milestone in the urban fabric of the city.
"The building gives a positive atmosphere to all the attendants of the court” Judge Dina Cohen Esq. - vice president of the Ashkelon Magistrate Court.
Ammar-Curiel Architects - Dina Ammar graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion in 1970. She has been in private practice since 1977, and is currently a partner in a large scale architecture office.
Avraham Curiel graduated from the Technion in 1987, and is a partner in the same office. Between 2002-2004 he instructed architecture students in their final project, and since 2009 has been working as a consultant for the Ministry of Education.
Founded in January 1991, the office has since designed and executed many diverse projects: public, business, and commercial buildings as well as housing and infrastructure.