Recently pre-opened to families of fallen soldiers, the new National Remembrance Hall in Jerusalem will open to the general public by the end of 2017. The project was first conceived in 2005 when the Ministry of Defence chose Israel-based architects Etan Kimmel and Michal Kimmel-Eshkolot (Kimmel Eshkolot Studio) in cooperation with architects Liran Chechik and Nitzan Kalush to design the monumental space.
The construction commenced approximately two and a half years ago after a long design and planning process and has just recently opened its doors to the first visitors – the families of the deceased.
The structure is made up of two areas. The upper, outdoor level mainly comprises the entrance plaza and a wide stairway leading to the entrance of the hall, while the second area is where the central memorial hall and the inclined path leading to it gradually expose visitors to natural daylight and an engraved wall with the names of the fallen soldiers.
The central memorial hall was dug 18 metres (59 feet) into the mountain and designed in an oval lengthened shape that resembles a bell or a torch. The construction of the bell comprises 7,000 individual aluminium bricks (out of the 23,000 that were used to build the whole monument), and it was designed underground as part of the architect’s mission to incorporate the Jerusalem mountainous landscape into the features of the structure and to allow an optimal flow of natural light.
The exterior of this bell-shaped hall is also inclined with a wide stairway, enabling visitors to see it from every direction. Visitors are also welcome to climb up from the outdoor terrace and peek into the hall from its open-sky top.
What’s unique about the design of the hall is that digital software ensures that on the anniversary of each soldier’s death, the brick engraved with their name and date of death will illuminate on their behalf. The thought behind this concept was that each soldier deserves to receive his own place of commemoration, somewhat like a second tombstone – a concept unlike most army memorial monuments in Israel and around the world. However, when it comes to rank and status, there is no indication, and each soldier is commemorated equally.
That isn’t the only high-tech system incorporated in the design; the entrance path has computers that allow visitors to search for the brick of their loved one, as well as the app providing information on each of the fallen soldiers.
Since military service in Israel is compulsory for all 18-21-year-olds, soldiers are not professional as in most countries. Other than being a place to mourn and remember the deceased loved ones, this memorial monument serves to honour those who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to provide a way for the general public to pay their respects and appreciation.
The new hall joins the group of memorials and monuments across Jerusalem’s Hertzel Mountain, commemorating the Jewish Holocaust, fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. It also joins the group of architectural landmarks designed in Israel, which help in representing Israel’s character and history as part of a contemporary, personal and impressive experience.
Discover more about the construction and design of this monument in the following video: