by Pallavi MehraOct 27, 2020
The Landroom is a rammed earth observatory designed by Gitai Architects, resting within the sparse landscape of the Negev desert in southern Israel. About six sqm in size, the structure is designed to accommodate just two people according to the design team, and is built of earth and sand sourced from the Mitzpe Ramon crater it is located within, as well as stones found at the site. Landroom functions as a shelter from the harsh daylight sun and as an observatory for the stars at night, described as “a minimal environmental structure designed on the verge between a territory and a landscape object.”
Based in Haifa and Paris, Gitai Architects led by architect Ben Gitai found a muse in Gitai’s newborn daughter Esther, wanting to instil in her the importance of looking up to the sky for answers. “The Landroom is a call to our ancient instincts, of looking up at the stars for guidance. The project is an ode to that spirit, to creation and to freedom,” shares Gitai. He also says that the Landroom observatory signifies the transition from a normal lifestyle to the unpredictability we live in these days, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioned by the Mitzpe Ramon municipality, the earth coloured, rustic cube has a cylindrical volume carved out of it, with a seat built inside for travellers to sit. Soil is compressed into various layers, into a mould specially crafted according to the design’s construction, resulting in the stratification seen on its body.
Open to the sky and the desert it faces, Landroom “explores the relationship between material and territorial space, and how they define each other,” according to Gitai Architects.
A wind bell made of desert stone hangs on the lone window inside the desert architecture, chiming softly as the desert winds touch it, absorbing the dialogue and soundscape of its local environment. “It also maintains an internal and external dialogue with the Ramon Crater (the world’s largest “erosion crater”), allowing a connection between the space and the landscape that surrounds it. The atmosphere inside it transforms itself with the changing environmental conditions throughout the day, making it a piece of artistic transformation,” he continues.
“This work emphasises the need for man to observe and sit with nature. The Landroom is a spatial and formal translation that provides the visitor a sense of freedom and space within a unique landscape,” shares Gitai.