Scroll of Light

Caesarea , Israel

Competition winner

Program: Synagogue
Client: The Caesarea Foundation Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild
Area: 800 sqm
Status: Completed 2007

Project Award: AI -Architecture of Israel – Project of the Year 2008, Citation


The synagogue is a place where one can remove oneself from everyday life and go through a spiritual process of purification in order to focus on connecting with the Creator.

The scroll, which is a central motif in the design, is a means for developing a story which is not disrupted by the turning of pages, but rather develops gradually and continuously to form a complete story. The contents of the scroll are embodied within its layers thus revealing its secrets through motion.

The progression within the structure develops alongside the curving “parchment” which leads us towards the inner space and guides us into a process of spiritual change and towards the gradual revelation of the sanctuary. As we gather together we look around and experience the minimalist inner court which frames the lone olive tree. The court secludes us from the distractions of secular life and connects us, through the most basic means, to the earth and the sky. The space revealed is a world of tranquility and self reflection.

The building is designed as a spiral which aims to express the cyclical aspect of Judaism and the connection between circular time and linear time. The experience of circular time is one of recurrence and cyclical motion. The experience of linear time is one of development and change along the timeline. These two systems meet at momentary unique moments in time thus creating the spiral continuum.

The hub of the Scroll’s junction forms the prayer hall, isolated from its surroundings by the lack of direct visual contact with anything else. The isolation transforms the place into a microcosm where the strongest force is that of the light penetrating the building through openings in the ceiling. This hidden light washes over the curved walls which come together towards the Holy Ark. The Ark hovers over a pool of water and is lit by a soft indirect light that is reflected in the pool. The place’s symbolism as a “Scroll of Light” aims to emphasize the meaning of the creation of light as the foundation of life and as a symbol of truth, knowledge, and hope.