Cherem Arquitectos was presented with a challenging site for Birkat Itzjak, an Orthodox Jewish temple for the Comunidad Maguén David. But the resulting serene interior belies the small corner plot on a busy Mexico City street. “When inside, it feels like another world,” Cherem co-partner José Antonio Aguilar says of the five-story building, which includes worship and workshop areas, plus a library, study, and rabbi’s office.
Materials play a role in that transformation as well as in unifying the project. Travertine, for instance, composes most of the facade, lines the courtyard, and forms the flooring in the men’s prayer section. Above the latter is the women’s mezzanine; it’s fronted by a brass mesh screen backed by glass, simultaneously providing privacy and a surface to bounce light around the 45,000-square-foot space. Natural light enters via fixed eaves and a wall of pivoting glass doors framed in steel.
The same metal trims the sole onyx facade, which faces east toward Jerusalem—further evidence that special care was taken to create a sacred retreat in the urban milieu. And since founder and other co-partner Abraham Cherem Cherem is a member of the synagogue, the firm completed the project pro bono.
Project Team: David Cherem; Malena Martinez.