Raphael Fogel Saray Bat Observatory architecture design wildlife urban night time nucturnal Jaffa Old City Tel Aviv Concept amphitheatre historic digital render UE4

SARAY BAT OBSERVATORY

BUILDING EXTENSION

Approaching Jaffa’s old Saray building, one cannot miss the symphony of screeches emerging from within. Looking inside, the ceilings brim with life. In the absence of humans, a colony of Egyptian fruit bats established a home in the abandoned building.

 

The phenomenon is only valued by a handful of bat enthusiasts. To the public, the bats remain invisible, unapproachable, and unknown. If we want to open our cities and make them more inclusive to non-humans, we should start by recognizing and fostering the creatures who are already there. The project imagines an extension to the existing building, creating an interface between bats and humans. The extension attaches to the outer walls and roof, forming a series of outdoor spaces where bat behaviour can be observed.

The structure enables access to previously unreachable windows and reveals new perspectives to the colony inside. Sitting areas face spaces allocated to the growth of Ficus and Palm trees. Bats can be seen feeding as they fly from tree to tree and over the heads of visiting humans. An Amphitheatre on the roof surrounds a big, dark void, where thousands of bats emerge each night as they venture out in search of food.

 

People observing closely may notice that they too are being watched. Bats are sentient, intelligent, and curious creatures. In cities they become less timid around humans. The Saray Bat Observatory is built as a safe space, where bats and humans can mutually explore their curiosity for one another.

 

The observatory acts as a sanctuary of darkness. Low-frequency red lighting provides enough visibility for humans to navigate while maintaining a comfortable environment for the bats. By allowing public access to this environment and its associated experiences, the Egyptian fruit bats will begin to be valued as an intrinsic and inseparable part of Jaffa.

*Special thanks to Prof Yossi Yovel for insights and consultation

Plan showing the extension in relation to the existing building

Perspective section cutting through both building and extension revealing the colony inside

An alcove serves as information space. Data pertaining to the colony is collected and visualized

The structure enables access to previously unreachable windows and reveals new perspectives to the colony inside

Sitting areas facing Ficus and Palm trees. Bats can be seen feeding as they fly from tree to tree and over the heads of visiting humans.

An Amphitheatre on the roof surrounds a big, dark void, where thousands of bats emerge each night as they venture out in search of food