Form follows metaphors: A critical discourse analysis of the construction of the Israeli Supreme Court building in Jerusalem

Haim Yacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines critically the role of architecture in the construction of national identity, using the case of the Israeli Supreme Court building. Through critical discourse analysis of texts that accompanied the design and construction of this building, I propose to study the interrelations between the production of the architectural object and the practice of the construction of an Israeli national identity. The existing body of knowledge that supports this article claims that the creation of national identity is a socially constructed process, which involves a variety of practices including education, music, army service, as well as the design of the built environment. It is important to note that the realisation of such practices does not occur as a natural process, but rather as a result of power relations, embodied within the national sphere. Following this line of argument, the paper proposes a critical approach, which aims to move towards the politicisation of the term ‘sense of place’. In this context, concentrating on the Israeli Supreme Court building is not an arbitrary decision, since this institution is at the focus of the Israeli civil arena, and its building became a ‘land-mark’ and symbol of architectural quality. Following the texts written by the architects and critics, I would argue that this building reflects – and thus strengthens – the hegemonic interpretations of Israeli social and cultural reality. This interpretation is characterised by using selective historical and biblical references, in order to create through architecture an ‘iconographic bridge’ into an imagined collective past. However, this bridge reproduces the antinomies that frame Israeli space and transform it into ‘our place’, that is West versus East and Local versus Diaspora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-794
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Architecture
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2016

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