Representing Mandatory Palestine: Austen St. Barbe Harrison and the Representational Buildings of the British Mandate in Palestine, 1922-37

by Gilbert Herbert, Ron Fuchs
Representing Mandatory Palestine: Austen St. Barbe Harrison and the Representational Buildings of the British Mandate in Palestine, 1922-37
Gilbert Herbert, Ron Fuchs
Architectural History
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Select license: 
Select License


Representing Mandatory Palestine: Austen St Barbe Harrison and the Representational Buildings of the British Mandate in Palestine,


The City of Jerusalem, precious as an emblem of several faiths, a site of spiritual beauty lovingly preserved over the ages by many men's hands, has been in our care as a sacred trust for 30 years. In these pages will be found an important part of the story of the discharge of that trust, of the efforts made to conserve the old while adding the new in keeping with it, of the process of marrying modern progress with treasured antiquity.

Sir Alan Cunningham, High Commissioner for Palestine 1945-48, 1948.'

The construction of New Delhi is often presented as the peak of British colonial architecture, a monumental undertaking that was nevertheless the Empire's swansong. Although the city was dedicated only half a generation before the Raj was terminated and the whole Empire set out down the road of decolonization, New Delhi was not the last and final chapter in the history of British colonial architecture. The buildings erected by the British Mandatory government of Palestine -first and foremost, the British High Commissioner's Residence (completed 193 I) and the Palestine Archae- ological Museum in Jerusalem (dedicated 1937 and now called the Rockefeller Museum) -were architectural achievements of considerable merit, and, more importantly, they carried further the architectural discourse of New Delhi with commanding sophistication. It was, perhaps, in Palestine that the Empire produced its last intellectually ambitious architectural statement.


The design of New Delhi is an inevitable starting point for the interpretation of any colonial project that followed, not only because its prestige, scale and architectural excellence made it a venerable model for British architects of the interwar generation, but because in New Delhi problems of colonial architectural symbolism were debated more extensively, explicitly and publicly than in any other colonial building campaign2 New Delhi offered a clear exposition of the basic dilemmas of colonial representation, and suggested a coherent approach for their solution.

The great debate of New Delhi was ostensibly a dilemma of style: should the new capital be designed in a contemporary European manner, or should it be fashioned in an Indic style? However, as the arguments raised make clear, the stylistic dilemma represented two conflicting conceptions ofBritain's role in India, and of the destiny of the country. European, or straightforward British, design was understood by its supporters and critics alike as an assertive gesture, frankly (or blatantly) proclaiming Britain's dominance over the sub-continent, and expressing British cultural superiority. The arguments for an Indic style can, perhaps, be ultimately traced to a paternalistic conception of the role of the colonial power, a conception that regarded colonial dominion as a trust that entailed responsibilities on the part of the colonial power for the well-being of its ward-nation (the 'doctrine of tru~teeshi~').~

The adoption of indigenous motives in colonial representational buildings -'colonial regionalism' as one may call it -meant to present the structures, and the institutions they housed, as conceived ultimately for the benefit of the colonial subjects rather than for the egoistic ends of their foreign ruler^.^

The stylistic dilemma between a European or British manner and the regonalistic, localizing approach concealed yet another, parallel, dilemma of colonial government, that between 'interventionism' and 'preservationism', i.e. between policies aimed to reform and modernize native societies according to western values, and policies consciously adapted to the supposed horizons of indigenous cultures, and designed to 'protect' the integrity of traditional systems against the 'disruptive' pressures of westernization and modernization. Significantly, preservationistic arguments were raised in the New Delhi debate in favour of the regonalistic approach, while Lutyens' objection to an Indic style can be read as an early rejection of such policies, and his insistence on classicism as a plea for a modern vision for India. '

Indeed, classicism was for Lutyens a mode of modernity, a way of approaching the challenges of the twentieth century in general. In Britain, classicism -specifically, Beaux-Arts-inspired classicism -was taken up by many architects after the turn of the century as a reaction against the confining vision of the Arts & Crafts movement, the anti-industrial, anti-urban and anti-intellectual views of which seemed to lead to a dead-end in a modern age.6 Gradually, such architects as Lutyens and Charles Holden internalized Beaux Arts theory, and through the 1910s and '20s developed a 'modern' classicism that relied less on classical detail, but rather on the most abstract and rudimentary precepts of Beaux Arts planning, such as axial, rational composition, geometric discipline and an aesthetic of primary forms. Lutyens developed a highly personal 'elemental manner' that probably evolved with the design of New Delhi, and reached maturity in the 'zos, for example in his monument for the missing of the Somme at Thiepval, 1925.' However, this abstract classicism -unlike the modernism of the then emergng Modern Movement -was a strategy that sought to meet modern problems by transcending rather than actually engaging them. Sticking by values perceived in Beaux Arts theory as universal and eternal presented the essentials of past tradition as equally valid for the present, and the problems of the 'here and now' -as petty and ephemeral. 'New materials cannot change the outlook, for the principles of design have been, and are for all time, unchangeable', wrote ~utyens.' This argument could be employed to resolve the discord between international culture and indigenous tradition, as neatly as it could serve to disprove the conflict between tradition and modernity. By relying on principles of architecture that were 'neither old nor new, but simply true',9 i.e., principles perceived as universally and eternally valid, the conflict between the old and the new, the 'international' and the 'localized', could be resolved, or more accurately, transcended.

In the colonial context this reasoning -the 'transcendental strategy' as it might be called -was a perfect solution of the dilemmas of colonial representation. By focusing on the abstract, universal procedures of classicism, European design could be made valid for the Orient; by abstracting indigenous tradition of its relative, specific aspects, it could be universalized. The whole range of colonial conflicts -regionalism vs. universalism, modernity vs. tradition, East vs. West, 'imperialistic' colonialism vs. 'paternalistic' colonialism -could thus be resolved, or again, rather, transcended. In the Viceroy's Palace at New Delhi, Lutyens' 'elemental manner' combined with his subtle abstraction of oriental forms suggested this strategy.'' Arthur Shoosmith, one of his disciples in New Delhi, carried it to its logical conclusion. In his St Martin's Garrison Church (1927)Shoosmith distilled his master's 'elemental manner' of all vestiges of classical detail, to achieve an abstract composition of masses that subtly alluded to some unspecified, primitive and ageless vernacular tradition. In this way he managed to evoke 'indigenousness' and, at the same time, s eak a universal language of geometry; to be British and, at the same time, of 1ndia.lPThe result was timeless, and in a sense, placeless, which was both its merit and weakness.


The basic colonial dilemma between assertiveness and paternalism took in Palestine a particular colour. As the Holy Land -the land of the Bible, the scene ofJesus' life and sacrifice, the lost Kingdom ofJerusalem, the image of heavenly Jerusalem, the object of Blake's utopia -Palestine was more charged with meaning for any British citizen than any other colonial possession. The deep religous significance of the Holy Land to Christianity and the memory of the unfulfilled crusader quest endowed the possessive sentiment toward Palestine with an unparalleled religous dimension. Christopher Hussey's comment in his review of the High Commissioner's Residence, entitled 'A Crusader Castle of Today', demonstrates how strongly was an expression of this expected of British architecture in the Palestine: 'This house', he explains, 'represents the fulfilment, at long last, of a dream that set the mediaeval world aflame. . . . the view over the sacred city commanded by these windows floated fantastically and unattainably before the eyes of our forefathers, whose dust now lies beneath a cross-legged effigy in churches scattered over the length and breadth of our land.'12 The crusading sentiment was, however, countered by a romantic fascination with the Orient, which bred a feeling of deep empathy, best epitomized, perhaps, by the figure


of Lawrence of Arabia wearing Bedouin costume. The stagng of Allenby's famous entrance into Jerusalem on I I December 1917 -when Allenby, the first Christian to occupy the city since the crusades, dismounted from his horse and walked in through the old Jaffa Gate like a humble pilgrim -was, in fact, a rejection of the assertive- crusader sentiment in favour of the paternalistic policy.

What decidedly turned the British administration of Palestine away from any crusading pose and toward a paternalistic approach was the concept of the mandate. Although meant to offer an alternative for outright colonial domination, the Mandate System was nevertheless based on a colonial idea. It was a fonn of trusteeship, a legally formulated and internationally sanctioned reahation of the doctrine of colonial trusteeship. In the covenant of the League of Nations, the Mandate was literally defined as a'sacred trust of civilization'. The status of Palestine as a mandate (instated in 1922, and finally ratified in 1923) is what justified the suppression of any crusader symbolism and assertive expressions of British dominance, and made strategies of colonial paternalism doubly appropriate in Palestine. This had obvious implications for the choice of imagery in Mandatory representational architecture. It suggested taking the 'regionalistic' side on the stylistic dilemma that had been so thoroughly debated in New Delhi. According to the logic of the New Delhi debate, depicting Palestinianity, celebrating the traditions of Palestine, was what the concept of the Mandate called for in representational architecture.

The apparent appropriateness of the localizing, regionalistic approach in Mandatory architecture did not mean that the stylistic dilemma of New Delhi did not exist for Palestine, as surely as the paternalistic frame of the Mandate did not mean that it contained no element of domination and intervention. An expression of British authority was still needed; authority in the country was, after all, in British hands. The crusader sentiment, if suppressed, Id not lose its appeal (as Hussey's review quoted above implies), and the role of a benevolent trustee of the Holy Land could actually serve to satisfy crusading ambitions through sublimating them. The role of a Mandatory power entailed, beside obligations toward the ward-nation, also a responsibility to the international community represented by the League of Nations, in the authority of which it was operating. In a land sacred to millions of believers of three world religions around the globe, this responsibility was particularly significant. The phrase 'sacred trust of civilization' in the covenant of the League of Nations assumed in Palestine an unexpected literal meaning. This meant that, formally at least, Britain was obliged to consider the interests of 'civilization' at large, which were not necessarily identical to those of the country's inhabitants.

As for preservationism, preservationist policies too needed to be qualified in Palestine. Modernity and change still had to be allowed for; after all, the Mandate meant reinstating Palestine as a modern state, and providing it with civil institutions and services it had not enjoyed before. Furthermore, celebrating traditional Palestine, as the paternalistic approach suggested, was in itself an innovative act. By the time of the British occupation the territory had been for four hundred years a part of the vast cultural mosaic of the Ottoman Empire, and defining a separate Palestinian culture had never been attempted before. Finally, the Mandate did include one unprecedented 'interventionistic' stipulation: making Palestine a 'Jewish National Home'. This undertahng did not merely involve Britain in conflicting responsibilities to Arab Palestine and the Jewish National Home; it committed British administration to an objective that contradicted colonial preservationism: while colonial philosophy believed in tradition, regonalism and 'slow and sound' progress, the Yishuv represented modernism, cosmopolitanism and aggressive development. Worst of all, it threatened to disrupt the tradition-bound, timeless, oriental image of Palestine that colonial paternalism was geared to protect. The concept of the Jewish National Home explicitly committed Britain, paradoxically within the paternalistic framework of the Mandate, to the implementation of change and modernization to an extent unequalled in any typical colony.13

The various elements of the Palestinian landscape assumed different values for the British administrators of the country according to the position taken on the dilemmas of the Palestinian situation. The paternalistic frame of mind readily embraced the colourful, exotic, oriental aspect ofthe country. Rural Palestine, picturesque, 'biblical', seemingly timeless, the true voice of the land, had an immediate aesthetic and romantic appeal. The cubic, domed houses of Jerusalem and the Judaean hills became a stereotypic icon of Palestinian tradition (Fig. 1).14 Measures to preserve the historic aspect ofJerusalem were taken within the first months of British administration by the Governor of Jerusalem, Ronald Storrs, who also invited C. R. Ashbee to prepare a city plan.15

The remains of the diverse history of the Holy Land came during the Mandate into especially sharp focus. The Mandate made possible archaeologcal research, unpreced- ented in its extensiveness, in Palestine, which produced a series of important, even sensational, finds. The Mandate charged the administration of Palestine with the enacting of a Law of antiquities that would 'ensure equality of treatment in the matter of excavations and archaeologcal research to the nationals of all States of the members of the League of nations'.16 What role each of the relics of the past of the country was to be gven, from a British point of view, in shaping its present image and identity is too complex an issue to review here. The issue is made more complicated by the fact that the past was one of the 'resources' of Palestine that held particular interest for the international community at large. Whatever value attached to each period, archaeology helped underline the imposing weight of a heroic and fateful past, and reverence for the past went hand in hand with colonial preservationism. 'Marrying modern progress with treasured antiquity' was how the last High Commissioner, Alan Cunningham, summed up the challenge of design in palestine."

On the other hand, local nineteenth-century architecture, the product of Ottoman modernization and reform, was dismissed as inauthentic, while the substantial heritage of pre-War European construction in Jerusalem -imperialistic in content, and anti- regonalistic in design -won outright resentment. Storrs, for example, found these structures 'hideous' aesthetically, as well as morally.18

The architecture of the Jewish Yishuv posed another affront to colonial sensibilities. In the 1910s and '20s the Yishuv sought Jewish national expression in Orientalist forms, but by the early '30s Modernism has become a generally accepted mode for Jewish domestic construction as well as representational buildings.19 Modernism was

Designing the architectural imagery expressive of British conceptions on Mandatory rule and the true nature of the country was almost solely the task of one person: the chief architect of the Mandatory Public Works Department, Austen St Barbe Harrison (I 893, Kent-1976, ~thens).~' Although colonial Public Works Departments usually would not have been entrusted with the design of prestigous, representational projects, the shll and reliability of the Mandatory 'house architect' made him for a period of fifteen years (1922-37) almost the sole author of government architecture, from utilitarian structures to representational monuments. Mandatory architecture is deeply imprinted with his archiectural convictions, and any assessment of it must consider his personality as well.

When Harrison joined the colonial service, just as the civil administration in Palestine was being established, he had acquired limited experience as an architect. He had studied at McGill in Canada, but completed his studies at the School of Architecture at University College London (then headed by Adshead) in 1919. Both institutions seem to have been influenced at the time by Beaux Aas conceptions, and it is, no doubt, the education he acquired in them that inculcated in Harrison a strict Beaux-Arts-type rationalism, to which he rigdly adhered throughout his professional life. On completing his studies, Harrison spent two years (1919-21) in Greece working in reconstruction projects following the Balkan wars.21 On returning to England he worked for a while in the ofice ofJ. M. Simpson. During this period he also spent two months in Lutyens' In&a ofice, an experience he probably sought as a preparation for a possible career in the colonies.22 Indeed, Harrison seems to have consciously decided to seek his fortune outside England, and once he left for Palestine, he never returned permanently to England. He not only spent his whole lifetime in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, but also became a dedicated admirer of the landscapes of the region and an avid student of its architecture. When he arrived in Palestine he continued the study of oriental architecture that he had already begun in Greece, keeping abreast with the newest publications and archaeologcal discoveries, travelling extensively in Palestine, as well as in Egypt and Syria, and measuring and drawing buildings. It is no wonder that his thorough knowledge and deep love of Near-Eastern architecture soon began to inspire his designs. He justified his attentiveness to oriental architecture with characteristically regionalistic arguments. In a document, relating to the High Commissioner's Residence in Jerusalem, he actually presented a 'regonalis- tic' credo. A building, he wrote, must be 'suited to its environment', 'make sensible use of available materials' and 'avoid flouting local traditi~n'.~~ In Palestine, an architecture responsive to its oriental uniqueness was necessary: 'whereas an architect in England has no difficulty in producing a building which will appear aesthetically harmonious and pleasing in any such cosmopolitan centres as Buenos Ares, Prague and Belgrade, to be equally successful in aPalestinian landscape is not so easy."% criticism of the nineteenth-century European architecture in Jerusalem naturally followed from this position: 'it is undesirable to add to the number of buildings in


Jerusalem which have been erected to plans made abroad by architects following their various national styles.'25

Why Harrison chose to trade the coziness of home for a colonial career in the rugged, remote lands of the Mediterranean no doubt had something to do with his own psychologcal make up. He evidently preferred solitude over the poignancy of modern city life. 'He is an awful recluse' is how Lawrence Durrell summed him 'I am really a sociable person despite appearances. Only I must be able to get away from society which suffocates me,' Harrison himself explained in a letter to a friend." The sublime, desolate and sun-struck landscapes of the desert gave him intense pleasure, and he loved to go on solitary walks in the wilderness -whether in the Judaean hills, on uninhabited Greek islands or in the Egyptian desert. 'How I love the deserts, the empty spaces & the sun!' he exclaimed in a letter to the painter David Bomberg describing a walk in the Egyptian desert.28 This preoccupation with the sublime seems to have affected his architecture as well. It probably made him particularly receptive to the idealist theories behind Beaux Arts teachings. It was a feeling of exultation that he seemed to regard as the mark of the greatest architecture. 'Awed silence' and 'the contemplation of history' are the sensations he most valued in a short description he published of the Haram in Jerusalem:

To descend the stepped suk which leads from the Citadel ofJerusalem to the great Mosque and stand for the first time on the threshold of the Haram Ash Sherif is one of those experiences that a man of sensibility treasures all the days of his life.

The antithesis between the religious calm of the spacious, sun-drenched sanctuary and the secular bustle of the shaded tunnel of approach is so poignant; the beauty of the domed shrine amidst its attendant buildings is so ineffable; the thought provoked by passive contemplation of this historic and holy ground so absorbing that he is likely to be reduced to awed silence . . .29

Whatever Harrison's personal motives for choosing a colonial career in Palestine, his slulls and tastes perfectly suited the needs of the Palestine administration. Soon after taking up his new job in the Palestine PWD, Harrison proved himself a reliable, efficient, and tactful officer, as well as a confident architect intensely dedicated to his vocation. More importantly, his preoccupation with Near-Eastern architecture conformed with the paternalistic aspect of the Mandate and the 'regyonalistic' architecture that colonial paternalism tended to invite. Harrison was the right man to continue in the 'regionalistic' path already marked by Storrs and Ashbee. This is, no doubt, what provoked Director of Public Works to remark in Harrison's personal file 'He is the right man in the right place.'30

Within Harrison's first two years in Public Works, he was already worlung on two projects of clearly representational purpose: a residence for the Chief British Representative in Amman and the Palestine pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. These two minor projects each challenged Harrison with another facet of the problem of Mandatory representation: one was about representing British authority, while the other called for a portrayal ofpalestine. Eventually, the Residence at Amman and the pavilion, respectively, turned out to be preliminary exercises for Harrison's ultimate essays in Mandatory representation, one symbolizing British authority, the other characterizing Palestine: the High Commissioner's Residence in Jerusalem, and the Palestine Archaeologcal ~useum.~'

Transjordan was subjected to British control after 20 August 1920, when the administration of this regon collapsed after the French deposed King Faisal in Damascus. The British made an agreement with the lung's brother, Abdallah, who had already occupied Amman in November 1920, which gave him the rule over the Transjordan under the supervision of the Palestine High Commissioner. On 25 May 1923 the League of Nations gave recognition to a semi-independent government of the Emir. An agreement, defining the form and extent of British supervision in Transjordan, was signed with Abdallah in 1928. A British Representative in Amman acted as a 'resident adviser' to the Emir, the 'limited monarch' of Transjordan. The first British Representative (1921-24), H. St John Philby was a unique personality of the peculiar brand of English Orient lovers.32

Although convenient and strategic in location, in 1920 Amman was practically a village. It could offer no accommodation on European standards, and British officials were compelled to make do with traditional structures that proved not only very inconvenient, but also insanitary. Philby, whose wife and small children had joined him in Amman, complained bitterly about their living conditions, and so did his successor, Henry Cox (1924-39), in his turn. The Emir offered the house, in which he himself was living, to the British Representative and his family, and 'betook himself to tents . . . owing to the impossibility of finding a suitable residence', but even this house was 'unsanitary and infested with vermin'.33

Construction of a new building had been under consideration at the Colonial Off~ce at least since 1922, in view of Philby's persistent complaints and the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel's favourable recommendations. No progress was made, however, until the arrival of the second High Commissioner, Lord Plumer (1925-28), who firmly pressed for the realization of the project. Plumer also strongly supported Harrison as the architect to design the building, and previous plans made for Philby and the Colonial Ofice by the Hejaz Railway engineers and the hr Ministry were now put aside. Preliminary plans by Harrison were ready in August 1925, and a more complete version dated October 1925 was submitted to the Colonial Ofi~e.~" site had already been found: 20 dunams just outside Amman, the Emir's g~ft.~~

The approval of the Treasury for the new estimates was gven in February 1926, the Palestine revenue being sti ulated as the source for the funds. Construction finally started by the end of the year. 39

Harrison's plan (Fig. 2) dutifully provided for the functions required in the schedule of accommodation orignally prepared by Samuel and endlessly scrutinized by the Colonial Office. It consisted of three successive units: a forecourt accessed through a wide portal and surrounded by service rooms (garage, kitchen, etc.), the Representat- ive's living quarters comprising a drawing room, study, dining room and playroom on the ground floor and bedrooms on the first, and, finally, a walled garden. The plan of the central block developed around a cruciform hall (defined as a 'summer drawing


Fig. 2. The Residence ofthe ChiefBritish Representative, Amman, 1926-28 @he Architects' Journal, 28.12.1932)

room'). The arms led respectively to an entrance hall, a dining room and two open loggias. Further rooms were placed at the corners between the arms. The space over the square bay at the centre of the cruciform hall ran up through the first floor and ended in a domed lantern. Windows peeped into this space from the corridor connecting the bedrooms on the first floor.

The design faithfully followed the principles of rational planning in the spirit of the Beaux Arts. Harrison's plan developed along two main axes, each element, down to the smallest niche, fastidiously balanced by a symmetrical counterpart. A module, based on subdwisions of the nine-square central block, seems to have determined the dimensions of the various elements. The width of the forecourt was equal to that of the walled garden, and each was half the width of the central block. The severe simplicity of the exterior emphasized the geometric neatness of the plan. The whole effect was based on cubic volumes and plain, smooth (musamsam texture, to be exact) surfaces of local stone. A livelier accent was added to the rigid composition by the interplay of the prismatic forms of the octagonal lantern, the projection of the dining room and the pavilion attached to the walled garden.

The rationality of the design was coupled with a careful consideration of 'local conditions'. Harrison made 'local conditions' a central issue in the memorandum he composed on his proposed design: 'the house must be as habitable in the hot dry months of midsummer as in the chilly wet ones ofwinter; hence the summer drawing room with its ventilation from all directions and the winter drawing room smaller in size, tucked away on the warm side of the house.'37 He provided the walled garden in order to give shelter from the frequent dust

storms that swept the bleak site in summer, and

to make the growing of plants possible. He also

suggested constructing water cisterns, common

in traditional houses, in view of the unreliable

water supply in Amman. The fortress-like dis-

position of the house might have served well in

case political instability led to violence.

A glance at Harrison's plan makes it obvious that he did not regard 'local conditions' only in practical terms. Through an erudite and sensi- tive interpretation of the vocabulary of Near- Eastern architecture, the design strove to respond to the cultural environment as well. This introduced themes unanticipated by his Beaux Arts convictions. Thus, Harrison seems to have derived his plan directly from a specific Fig. 3. Plan ofthe Cinili Kiosk, Islamic model: the central residential blockTopkapisaray, Istanbul, 1473 bears a striking resemblance to the Cinili Kiosk,

the fifteenth-century Ottoman imperial pavi- lion at the Topkapisaray, Istanbul (Fig. 3). But Harrison was certainly not referring merely to a specific building. As his sketchbooks show, he recognized the losk as one example of a ubiquitous Islamic plan-type, the four-iwan plan; and he was, no doubt, aware of its role in Islamic domestic ar~hitecture.~~

His 'summer drawing room' may remind one of a qa'a, the 'iwaned' state room characteristic of Syrian and Cairene traditional urban mansions; he very likely knew enough of traditional architecture to appreciate not only the imposing effect of the high, lanterned, central hall of the qa'a, but also its advantage as a ventilation flue.39 Native builders, he could have argued, knew best how to deal with harsh, hot climates similar to that of Amman. The four- iwan plan was still a living tradition in Near-Eastern domestic architecture in the last decades of the Ottoman rule, and even in late-nineteenth-century Palestinian urban mansions Harrison could have encountered occasional examples of cruciform central halls. Thus, Harrison must have felt that using the four-iwan plan was justified on climatic, functional, contextual and symbolic grounds. And, as if any further justification was necessary, an imposing and exceptionally well preserved Early-Islamic four-iwaned pavilion overlooked the centre of Amman from its ancient acropolis.40

The method of construction made a further important gesture towards 'local conditions'. As Harrison himself explains: 'There is a particular lund of rubble vaulting peculiar to this country, which not long before the War was everywhere employed and today is still employed outside the cities. This vaulting, merely whitewashed or painted is so pleasing to the eye that any lund of decoration or "finish" becomes s~perfluous.'~~

Harrison, therefore, proposed to appropriate the puristic beauty of Palestinian vaulting and cover the representational spaces of the Residence with vaults constructed in the peculiar indigenous techniques, employing native masons. 'The house at Amman is growing . . . and the construction of the vaults will soon begn',


Harrison enthusiastically wrote home in 1927, and in parenthesis he added prophetic-

ally, 'my first stone vaults'.42 He was already contemplating at the time an extravagant

use of traditional vaults in his design for the High Commissioner's Residence in Jerusalem.


The first High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel (1920-25), made his residence in the building of the Augusta Victoria, the German hospice on Mount of This massive edifice, erected with a German Imperial donation, had served since its completion in I 914 as German headquarters, and after I I December I 9I 7 as General ~llenb~'s.~~When Samuel arrived it was occupied by the staff of the military administration, and under Samuel it continued to house a number of government offices as well as officials' quarters. The inadequacies of the Augusta Victoria as a residence were obvious.46 The ponderous neo-Romanesque hospice dominating the eastern skyline of the city was not only inconvenient to use, but was too laden with German symbolism to represent British authority, and worse, too anti-regonalist as an architectural statement to convey the paternalist stance of the Mandate. Eventually it was the insistence of Lord Plumer, and the positive balance in the government coffers achieved during his tenure, that persuaded the Colonial Office and the Treasury to authorize in 1926 the construction of a new, suitable, re~idence.~' The need for a new building became undisputedly urgent, when the destructive earthquake of 1927 rendered the Augusta Victoria 'uninhabitable', and the High Commissioner had to resort to requisitioning a house in ~erusalem.~~

Preliminary Considerations

The voluminous official correspondence documenting the deliberations leading to the erection of the new residence contains little explicit discussion of the meanings of the building as conceived by the Colonial Office and the Palestine Government. However, the deliberations between the various official bodies over funds, that make up most of the correspondence, do gve some insight into the significance of the project in the eyes of the policy makers. For example, the question of how expensive a building to erect invited some definition ofits status. This suggested malung a distinction between a residence in a colony to one in a mandated territory: 'We feel that the somewhat special circumstances of the place', noted one of the Colonial officials, 'may call for a rather different type of building from the usual Government House in a Colony. Possibly, the Palestine Government House should correspond rather with a typical modern Legation building.'49 The implication was that a High Commissioner in a mandated territory is more of a diplomat than a governor. Since the expenditure had, as dictated by colonial financial policy, to come from the revenues of Palestine, an extravagant structure would have competed with the resources available for develop- ment, which, in the case of a mandated territory, could have provoked the criticism of the League of Nations. At the same time, the Colonial Office was aware that the deep significance of Palestine as the Holy Land, as well as the international limelight focused on it, called for a dignified architectural statement. 'We do want a good Government House', noted Amery, the Secretary of State for the

The wish to ensure a dignified design led to the issue of selecting the architect. 'I consider it important that Government House should be designed by a competent architect', wrote Amery to Plumer, 'and I shall be glad to be informed whether you consider that the work of designing it should be entrusted to an architect of this country, who has had experience in works of comparable magnitude and impor- tan~e;'~'

and in the file he noted: 'It would be well worthwhile to get the services of Herbert Baker even if it cost a little more.'52 Plumer, however, had already made up his mind on this question: 'there is no need', he replied, 'to entrust the work of designing the building itself to an architect from the United Kingdom. I consider Mr. Harrison, the Architect of Public Works Department, so well qualified for the work, that I should in any case have asked for his services to be made a~ailable.'~~

Harrison, whose Residence at Amman was going up at the time, evidently, had already established some reputation at the Colonial Office. Thus, one official (Clauson) wrote: 'I have always heard very high accounts of Mr. Harrison, the only criticism being that his artistic tastes were of too high an order to be wasted on the erection of police barracks and public lavatories. Government House should give him better scope.'54 He added that 'he is somewhat of an expert on the historic side of Near Eastern architecture.' Later, it was also pointed out that there was no hesitation in trusting Harrison with the design of the L200,ooo-worth new Archaeologcal Museum, while the construction of Government House was estimated then at only L44,~oo.~~

Plumer, determined not to let the matter stand, instructed Harrison to go ahead with the preparation of plans, and drawings, completed in February 1927, were immediately sent to London. To Harrison's dismay, the Colonial Office referred them to the Office of Works, requesting assistance in their appraisal. To his mother he wrote: 'The Office of Works in London no doubt think they ought to do it. There is almost no precedent for the architect on the spot being entrusted with so important a building and many important architects may well be fishing for it.'56 The controversy over the architect went on for almost two years. Only in September 1928, when Harrison completed revised plans for the final design at Jabel Muqqabar (see below), was Amery finally ready to let Harrison 'do the job'. Yet he still wanted to have an advisory opinion from Herbert Baker on his plans.57 Sir John Chancellor, who by now was preparing to take Plumer's place as High Commissioner in Palestine, was inclined not to involve Baker in the matter. He had been told that the Prince of Wales intended to visit Palestine in 1930 (a visit that never materialized), and was anxious to avoid any delays that might prevent the Residence from being completed by then. In the meanwhile, Lady Chancellor, disregarding formalities, showed Harrison's plans to Baker. In November 1928 Baker wrote to Chancellor: 'The plans I saw did seem to have radical defects and it might have been a long as well as a difficult business for architects so far apart to have agreed on revisions of any great value to the plans. It is a disappointment to me as it would have been a great pleasure to think that I might be of some use to you and Lady Chancellor and to the House. . . . P.S. I am glad to make you a present of the sketch I did for what it may be HOW Baker, the imperial architect, would have built in Palestine remains a matter for speculation until his sketch is found.


He may have produced a design similar to the classicist Government House he was building at the time at Nairobi (completed c. 1930), or, plausibly, a medieval-Crusader version of it. Harrison's victory was the victory of the subtle regionalistic and Orientalist approach that consistently dominated Mandatory architecture.

Early Designs

Parallel to the bureaucratic deliberations over the construction of the new building, Harrison's architectural ideas were evolving. He had been preparing plans since the idea to construct a new residence was first raised, and his final design was, in fact, the last of five different projects for five different sites.59 Drawings for the two penultimate designs survive.60 These projects introduced some themes that found their way to the final design -and, indeed, to other projects -but they do not represent a single line of development. They do share with the final design a search for an expression of 'vice-regal' authority (Harrison's expression), achieved through formal axial composi- tion, and combined with an attentiveness to the spirit of the place.61

The circumstances of the preparation of the earlier plan are obscure. Harrison was asked to prepare the drawings in a great hurry in March 1926 (Fig. 4).62 The site was aridge on the southern outskirts of the city, where the Katamon neighbourhood is found today. East and west there were deep gorges, offering a dramatic view. The place proved a strategc point in 1948, when heavy fighting took place around it. In the centre of the plot stood the Greek-Orthodox monastery of St Simeon. Harrison's design attached the Residence to the monastery, which turned the latter into the Commissioner's private chapel. This unusual combination between a colonial residence and a monastery must have been politically questionable, and this may have been one of the reasons why the site and the design were soon rejected.

At first sight the plan recalls an English country house of Lutyensian affinities. The house consisted of three main zones: a ceremonial or 'public' wing that included a monumental entrance hall above which rose a tower, a ballroom and a dining room; a private wing with a large drawing room and other living spaces; the monastery, connected to rest of the house by the ambulatory of a cloister, constituted the third wing. The plan was developed pedantically along 'centre lines'. Along the two main axes Harrison created long vistas that cut through the house and led the eye through successions of arcuated apertures. The east-west centre-line ran through the largest space, the drawing room, and led out into the landscape. The axial composition was coupled with somewhat eclectic references to indigenous architecture. For instance, the shallow domes over the porte coch2re and the top of the tower alluded to the domed cubes of the Judaean vernacular. The plan of the main living area, notwithstanding its 'Palladian' partie, was reminiscent of the ty ical central hall plan of nineteenth-century urban mansions of Palestine and Lebanon.' The tinted drawings suggest stone courses of varying hues, no doubt indicating the use of the variety available in Jerusalem limestone. Polychromic effects were familiar in late-nineteenth-century houses in

Jerusalem, but Harrison may have also been encouraged to make use of them by a

colleague, Frank Mears, who used polychromia in the Jewish National Library on

Mount Scopus (completed 1928).~~

Mears, Patrick Geddes' associate in the design of


Fig. 5. The H&h Commissioner's Residence,Jerusalem: Bethlehem Road project. 1927: plan (redrawnjom the original in the Public Record Ofice)

the Hebrew University, prepared the plans for the library while staying at Harrison's house at Abu-Tor, Jerusalem, at the same time that Harrison was designing the St Simeon project, March 1926.~~

The asnity between the projected St Simeon tower and that of the Mount Scopus Library was, no doubt, another result of the association between the two architects. The tower is perhaps the most important feature of this project inasmuch as it foreshadows a central idea of the final design.

The St Simeon site was eventually dropped in favour of a plot of I 50 dunams near Bet Saffafa, quite away from the city, down the Bethlehem Road. The new site was approved and acquired during 1927. In February 1927 Harrison completed a sketch plan for a Residence on the new site (Fig. 5).66 The new plan emphasized, even more forcefully than its predecessor, the 'vice-regal' authority of the High Commissioner. It clearly focused on the needs of a head of state, and aimed at providing for the ceremonies connected with his office. There was a suite of rooms serving as the High Commissioner's offices, approached through a sequence of spaces, passages and stairs calculated to impress a visitor. A large ballroom and two enormous cloak rooms, apparently anticipated entertainment on a .grand scale. A sizable wing with a court was dedicated to services and (native & European) servants' accommodation. Visitors would have been dazzled by the display of architectural effect. The state rooms were to be vaulted by the 'rubble vault peculiar to the country', already being pioneered at the time at ~mman.~'

A cloister, a tower (apparently over the stair-hall) and a stage-like verandah facing the landscape, features found in the previous project, are repeated and amplified here. Allthese elements are brought together by a single architectural device: they are all aligned along a single axis leading from the apse at the rear of the ballroom, through the ballroom itself, the cloister, the stair-hall, the drawing room and the terrace, out into the landscape. A viewer standing in the apse is offered a continuous vista that cuts through the whole house. This was evidently the key idea of the whole composition. Harrison explains: 'His Excellency the High Commissioner suggested that the Ball Room should so figure in the plan that it could be used conveniently on such occasions as investitures, celebrations in honour of the IOng's birthday etc. The ball room was therefore placed on the main axis with the courtyard and drawing room.'68 Harrison took Plumer's suggestion seriously and literally, and provided an 'audience hall' designed in the form of an audience basilica of an imperial late-Roman villa. One can envisage the High Commissioner seated in his apse, condescendingly viewing the guests approaching along the central axis.

The plans of the Bethlehem Road scheme were those sent to London for approval, and the Colonial Oflice, taking the advice of the Office of Works, found the design too grand and the proposed accommodation very exce~sive.~~

Anxious not to lose the work, Harrison suggested that a schedule of accommodation reduced by 30% as proposed by the Office of Works should be adopted, but that he should be instructed to make new plans based on it. New plans were needed anyway, since in the meanwhile it was decided to give up the site. Thus, by imposing financial restraint, the Colonial Office forced Harrison and Plumer to downscale their vice-regal dreams to the size of a fairly modest villa fit for the resources of a small mandated territory. In effect, having to condense his design, made Harrison produce a subtler and more focused solution. The new site added a stimulus that made for a truly inspired builhng.

The Final Design: Mount ofthe Evil Council, 1928-31

By the time of the earthquake ofJuly 1927 it was already clear that acquiring the site on the Bethlehem Road had been a mistake. A quarry was soon to start operating nearby, and an oxidization basin was projected further down the valley. Eventually, an 80-dunam plot was selected on a bare hill south of the old city walls, known by the name of Jabel Muqqabar, ominously identified with the vicinity of 'the Hill of the Evil ~ounsel'.'~ It was considerably away from the city, but still commanding a sweeping view of it. Initially the committee that inspected the site, put off perhaps by the municipal waste-incinerator that operated on the site at the time, unanimously rejected it. It was Harrison who realized the qualities of the place and won the


committee over.71 In August 1928 his plans for the Jabel Muqqabar site were completed, and these were eventually carried out.

The unique panorama that the site commanded made it an extraordinarily successful choice. To the south and east spread the sublime landscape of the Judaean desert with its bare hills and rugged wadis, that the sunset would paint in magnificent hues of red and purple. A glimpse of the Dead Sea could be gained in the distance. To the north opened 'a majestic view of the city ofJerusalem, equalled only by the prospect from Mount ~co~us'.'~

Jabel Muqqabar faced the south-east corner of the walled city, where the retaining walls of the Haram looked over the Kedron valley. Above this dramatic point towered the Haram mosques, and behind them unfolded a sweeping panorama of the old city with its domed houses, mosques, churches and synagogues. Opposite the city walls, on the eastern slopes of the Kedron valley the houses of the Siloam village clung picturesquely. The view from Jabel Muqqabar was not only magnificent, it was charged with historical memories and religous connotations. Places evolung memories of fateful events such as Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, the Mount of Ascension, Gethsemane, the British War Cemetery, the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mount Zion could all be pointed out from the hill top. The choice of site was particularly meaningful not merely because of the beauty of the landscape and its religous connotations, but because it suggested a relationship between Mandatory rule and the land that exceptionally agreed with British conceptions of it. The Residence on Jabel Muqqabar satisfied a suppressed crusading sentiment by appropriating all the sites that were dear to any British heart, but doing so subtly, almost stealthily, by framing a view of them in the High Commissioner's window.73 It reinforced the paternalistic stance of the Mandate by watching over the city from a distance without dominating it, staying aloof from its petty rivalries and vexing contemporary problems. It was a position of a power that sought to 'hold the ring', not to intervene. Finally, it agreed with the preservationist sentiment, by addressing primarily the historic, traditional aspect of the land. The new city, sprawling to the west and north of intra-mural Jerusalem, remained completely out of view.

How to respond to the sublime and charged landscape that unfolded around the site was the greatest challenge that the new site posed, and this challenge, it seems, gave the initial stimulus to Harrison's imagnation. On the plan that he prepared for publication in 1931 (Fig. 6), he marked with arrows the sight-lines to the various landmarks in the surrounding scenery. The orign for the lines -which is the focal point of the core of the design -was the intersection of two axes or 'centre-lines' running approximately north-south and east-west. In this plan, the centre-lines probably meant for Harrison more than a standard procedure of design. Studying the drawing, one is tempted to suggest that the sweeping panorama conjured in his mind an invisible wind-rose, on which the directions to the various historic sites could be charted. Thus, Harrison's first step was probably to actualize this image by drawing, from the best vantage-point on the site, the two centre-lines. Once the arms of the wind-rose were indicated, the plan seemed to dictate itself logically and inevitably. It must have been the axes leading to the four winds that now suggested to Harrison to return to the central architectural idea of the Amman residence: the four-iwaned Ottoman pavilion. He therefore placed a cruciform hall, which he designated as a

Fig. 6. The High Commissioner's Residence, Jerusalern,]abal Muqqabar, 1928-31 :plan (Courtesy ofIsrael Antiquities Authority)

drawing room, on his chosen vantage point, with its centre at the orign and its arms, or iwans, aligned with the axes. The pavilion was an apt idea not only because its four iwans embodied the geometry of the wind-rose, but also because the four-iwan plan, as Harrison is likely to have known, was often associated in Islamic architecture with lookout-pavilions.74 He must have also known that the plan was equally associated with Islamic state rooms and audience-halls, which conferred on the drawing room connotations of oriental authority. It made a subtle but amazing analogy to the British appropriation of the Mughal ceremonial audience in the New Delhi Durbar Hall. Harrison proceeded, as in Amman, to place rooms -a study, a 'small drawing room' and a 'smoke room' -between the iwans. The proportions were methodically derived from a square subdivided into six-by-six grid. The rest of the plan now developed logically along the axes emergng from the four arms of the cruciform drawing room.

landscape outside, and gving access to the semi-circular parterre. Its roof served as an open walk which was to terminate in a stone gazebo, calculated to add to the view of the house as seen from the Jericho ~oad.~~

As a counterpoint to the gazebo, a single Cypress tree was planted in a symmetrical position at the western end of the open walk.

The house proper developed to the south and west along the axes of the pavilion. On the south, the axis led from the drawing room into a basilica1 ballroom. It echoed some of the features of the ballroom in the previous project, but instead of an apse, a monumental fireplace stood in a niche at the end of the hall. The western arm of the drawing room, unlike its other arms, did not lead out of the pavilion. Being sealed, it served as a cozy sitting alcove with sofas and a fireplace. Not much less monumental than the one in the ball-room, this fireplace drew on European medieval models. It was installed on the end wall of the western arm, aligned with the axis. Behind the wall, and beyond a stair-hall, yet on the same axis, lay a spacious dining room. Guests seated at the table could enjoy a beautiful view ofJerusalem through three large glazed doors that opened on a paved terrace. As the plans to erect a Central Government Offices building in Jerusalem never materialized, the meetings of the High Commis- sioner's cabinet took place in this dining room. Some important government decisions must have been made with this sublime view ofJerusalem as a backdrop.

Not less important than the axes that ralated from the centre of the pavilion was the one that ran vertically upwards. Harrison aligned on it a number of significant elements: exactly above the crossing of the cruciform drawing hall, the High Commissioner's bedroom was placed; a tower (concealing a water tank) was erected over it; and finally the axis emerged from the roof, transformed into a IO-metre-high mast bearing a large Union Jack. Placing thus the High Commissioner's very person on a pedestal, as it were, and 'marking' him with a British flag, conveyed the meaning of the building in the most direct and literal way possible. To complete the idea, Harrison installed large apertures with cantilevered balconies on each face of the tower; one was encouraged, it seems, to visualize the High Commissioner standing on one of these balconies (in fact belonging to the tank room), scanning the horizon like a captain on the bridge of his ship. Drawing a vertical 'axis of dominion', as one might call it, from the heart of the landscape-oriented wind-rose of the plan, turned the composition into a subtle metaphor of the relation between the High Commissioner and the land. The sight-lines that innocently marked the directions to landmarks on Harrison's published plan, suggested rays emanating from a centre of power.

The articulation of the exterior of the pavilion added further layers of meaning to the symbolism expressed in the basic composition. Among the prominent features of the exterior are the rooms at the corners of the pavilion. Each of these has the fornl of a cube with a shallow dome, a direct reference to the characteristic domed cubes of Palestinian Arab vernacular architecture. The corner rooms replicate their model so knowledgeably that they could almost be mistaken for real Judaean village houses or apartments of a house in intramural Jerusalem. The cruciform volume of the drawing room rises from between the cubes, and from its crossing the tower grows.

The form of the tower is based on an abstract play of volumes. It suggests a cross with secondary volumes placed between its arms. The corner volumes do not reach all way up, but terminate somewhat below the cross's top in pyramidal shoulders. The cruciform volume extends further up until its arms too are cut to expose a square volume over its core. This procedure that transforms, as the structure rises, a square plan with corner elements into a cross and then into a smaller square was a 'modern' mannerism that came into vogue in Europe and America before the turn of the century and acquired in the '20s an Art Deco-ish flavour. Charles Holden's Incorporated Law Society Extension, Chancery Lane, London (1903-04) is one of many examples.76 The motive had already reached Jerusalem in the tower of the Jewish National Library, and been explored in Harrison's St Simeon project. The tower and the four-iwan pavilion represent two opposing worlds: one was a modem, western mannerism of Palladian genealogy, the other an archetypal oriental composi- tion; one belonged to the abstract world of pure geometrical form, the other made a literal reference to indigenous architecture. On close examination, however, an affinity between the two motives emerges: both motives are based on cruciform configuration with subsidiary volumes at the corners. Furthermore, as the dimensions of the tower are determined by the crossing of the four-iwan space, the Ottoman pavilion and the tower become parts of a single sequence of repeated square-into- cross-into-square transformations. Relating thus the articulation of the tower to the four-iwan plan makes an architectural metaphor pregnant with meanings. The vertical axis of the pavilion wing -the axis we have termed above the 'axis of dominion' may now be read as also signifjring an 'axis of sublimation': as the axis runs up from the Palestinian soil to the British flag, it also leads symbolically from the pole of the regonal, the traditional and the oriental to the opposite pole of the abstract, the universal and eternal. And whether Harrison consciously meant it or not, it is to the merit of the design that one could go on reading dichotomies into the pavilion- tower design: regonal vs. universal, traditional vs. modern, indigenous vs. British, oriental vs. occidental, Arts & Crafts vs. Beaux Arts, etc., etc. By revealing an underlying affinity between a traditional-oriental theme and a modern-western one Harrison seemed to suggest that the fundamental contradictions of the colonial situation, as well as the dilemmas of contemporary architecture, were, in fact, illusory and could be transcended. In this respect, Harrison's composition possesses a greater depth of meaning than the pile of historic references that Lutyens superimposed over

his Durbar Hall in New Delhi.

The rest of the house develops to the west of the drawing room complex. The service wing imitates the contours of the ballroom, so as to create a symmetrical U-shaped massing on the south side, where the approach road arrives. The axis of the forecourt, that is thus defined, is identical with the north-south centre-line of the dining room. A sunk garden, which is in fact a roundabout, is aligned with this centre- line, and so is the entrance to the house. A porle coch2re in the form of a domed cube, pierced on four sides by wide arcuated openings, led into an entrance hall, consisting of another domed cube, half 'sunk' into the volume of the house. The visitor would have already encountered similar shapes in the vocabulary of the gate-house lealng to the grounds. A rather long corridor led the visitor from the entrance hall to the drawing room.


The general arrangement of the plan is reminiscent of a Lutyensian villa, such as Little Thakeham, Sussex (1902). However, Harrison gave up a fully symmetrical solution. He made a special effort to have a symmetrical arrangement on the entrance fa~ade,but the Ottoman pavilion was not allowed a counterpart. From the side facing Jerusalem, the viewer sees therefore a long horizontal mass (the dining-room wing) that terminates on the east in the vertical accent of the Ottoman pavilion with the tower above it. In spite of the meticulous axial planning, the effect is picturesque, dynamic and dramatic. The silhouette is remarkably simdar to Shoosmith's Garrison Church in New Delhi. The two buildings also share a similar austere and somewhat military air."

Architectural Vocabulary

The various elements of the Residence's detailed design add up to a consistent architectural vocabulary that is distinctly Harrison's. As we shall see, the dilemmas of modernity and the colonial context that preoccupied him in the pavilion-tower design, are addressed on this plane as well.

One key element of Harrison's unique manner was the use of the Palestinian vault that was first employed extensively in the interiors of the Residence. The important state rooms -the drawing room and the pavilion corner rooms, the lning room, the aisles of the ballroom, the entrance hall and the entrance corridor: a substantial portion of the ground-floor -were all vaulted. The buttresses on the exterior were made necessary by the thrusts exerted by the vaults within. Construction was faithful to indigenous procedures and techniques, and using local masons ensured complete 'authenticity'. Photographs of the sites of the Residence and Museum show Arab builders in traditional clothes, laying roughly cut stones on forms finished in the local manner by packed brushwood and wet mud (Fig. 9). The largest vaulted space was the drawing room (Fig.10). Harrison intended a stark, simple effect, that required, however, rather complicated working drawings. The square bay of the crossing was covered by a cross vault with semicircular groins. This meant an elliptical section for the arms of the 'cross'. More complex curves resulted from groining the arms too, so as to accommodate a deep niche at the bottom tier and a clerestorey window above. On the south arm, a balcony of a mezzanine floor was provided in place of a clerestorey. This slightly Corbusian spatial effect was possibly inspired by an illustration of a qa'a at a Syrian traditional house.78 The balcony, intended as a musicians' gallery, offered an impressive view of the imposing vaulted space. Similar cross vaults with an elliptical section spanned the dining room, where another musicians' gallery was cleverly inserted behind the fireplace. The study and 'morning room' were vaulted in octagonal 'pumpkin' domes on squinches.

Harrison's appropriation of traditional Palestinian vaulting techniques for the High Commissiner's Residence was a straightforward regonalistic gesture that suggests the paternalistic and preservationistic meanings of 'colonial regonalism'. Harrison may well have been aware that the anti-progress implications of this regonalism might invite criticism. There was a slightly apologetic tone in the way he later justified the use of traditional vaults to a reporter: 'stone was used, not for sentiment, but because it

was found that local workmen were so well acquainted with old methods. . . .To have taught a large corps of labourers the modem use of warped concrete surfaces would [not] only have taken considerable time and money, but would have made less beautiful results.'79 That the shapes of the vaults themselves Id not imitate pedantically indigenous vaulting patterns suggests that he was borrowing a sound technique, not making a historicist reference. Modem use of concrete was, however, feasible in Palestine: Portland cement has been manufactured locally since 1925 (at the Jewish- owned Nesher Factory, Haifa), and expertise in reinforced-concrete construction was available. Harrison in fact used reinforced concrete (externally stone-faced) for the less important rooms. Thus the construction of the Residence did actually combine traditional and modern techniques, even if the latter was not visually expressed.80

Other aspects of the detailed design, elements ranging from moulded apertures to spacial units such as theporte cochire, were inspired by oriental forms, chosen eclectically from a wide range of Near-Eastern precedents. Harrison's treatment of these sought to transcend specific models. Avoiding literal quotation, he extracted from his precedents a limited number of primary forms, such as the round arch and the pointed arch, from which he rationally and methodically developed a diverse typology of architectural elements -arcades, doorways, window mouldings, and niches. In the various apertures Harrison used very simple stone mouldings consisting of a series of recessed parallel planes, the number of resulting 'steps' varying according to the importance of the aperture. A characteristic Harrisonian mannerism was to frame a round arch by a pointed arch. All these elements were vaguely oriental, but at the same time, could be read as elemental compositions independent of precedent. All was designed in emphatic simplicity, and the aura of platonic perfection was completed by the use of pure, glaring white, local limestone especially chosen by ~arrison.~'

This abstracting treatment of oriental precedent produced a sort of 'stripped Orientalism' akin to the 'stripped classicism' explored in England at the time by architects such as Lutyens and Holden. It applied what we had termed the 'transcendental strategy' to the colonial context so as to devise an architectural vocabulary that was above the conflicts of modernity and the limitations of regonalism. 'Near-Eastern Modernism' is how Christopher Hussey, sensing Harrison's ambition, dubbed the style of the Residence in his review of the building.82

Construction and detail

High Commissioner John Chancellor (1928-31) was shocked when Harrison told him that the preparation of working drawings for the Residence, 'a building of moderate size', would take some ten months to complete.83 Harrison explained the long time required for the preparation of working drawings by the unrepetitive nature of the design: 'a house is not like a factory or office building, where much of the detail is repeated. Almost every room and every fitting calls for separate detailing.js4 This sounds like an anti-modernist statement revealing Arts & Crafts sentiment^.'^ Harrison was indeed able to realize a design that calls for separate detailing of almost every fitting. Chancellor was so anxious to complete the building quickly (before the Prince of Wales' projected visit), that the Public Works Department suggested, as a means to



Although somewhat lacking in depth, the British Empire Exhibition, held in Wembley 1924-25, is nevertheless a landmark in the history of British colonial representation.89 In 1924, several years after the painful victory in the War, British public could 'take stock of the resources of the Empire' and find it larger than it has ever been. Since the War the Imperial collection had been augmented by mandated territories, and those included the unique new jewel of the Holy Land. Although the Foreign Office objected to a Palestinian representation in the Exhibition on the grounds that 'Palestine is not, and shall never be in any form part of the British Empire', Samuel, the High Commissioner, eventually persuaded the Government that a pavilion would be to the benefit of Palestine and therefore deserved to be san~tioned.~' After consultation with the Exhibition organizers it was decided to build one pavilion that Palestine and

Cyprus would share. In the second year of the Exhibition Palestine had the whole structure to itself.

Participation in the Exhibition compelled the newly created Government of Palestine to consider, perhaps for the first time, how the image of the new Mandatory state should be constructed, and how the realities of the new state should be displayed and edited to fit its conception of the country. In 1922, when the preparations for the Exhibition began, Samuel already had some idea as to the appropriate architectural image: 'The peculiar position which Palestine holds, can, in my view, best be gven expression to by means of the architecture of this ~ountry.'~' He added further, perhaps echoing Harrison's suggestions, that the building should have a dome and be 'devoid of any considerable ornamentation'. In other words, Samuel proposed the 'regionalist' approach, which suggested to him oriental motives. The idea that it would be best to use the 'native' architectural style was of course hit upon by the designers of many other pavilions. Imperial exhibitions always tended to become paradigms of colonial regionalism.92

In 1923 Harrison completed three alternative designs, of which the pavilion committee selected the one that seemed most 'characteristic' ofpalestine. The pavilion as built consisted mainly of an elongated hall, flanked by arcaded aisles, and roofed by a metal and glass roof. The hall terminated at each end in a domed turret-like vestibule of oriental inspiration. The exterior was painted white with horizontal dark stripes evoking Syrian ablaq work (Fig. 12).93

The display itself celebrated the exotic and oriental. In the 1925 season the interior was arranged like 'a typical street in Old Jerusalem, showing the small shops, arches and superstructure which are typical of the local market-places, or "suks". The entrance archway was painted . . . to represent the Jaffa Gate, and at the opposite end is another, a reproduction of the Gate of Damas~us.'~~

There was a Government section with agricultural and geological exhibits as well as a depiction of Government activities. Ronald Storrs' Pro-Jerusalem Society assembled a display which included Hebron glass and pottery, Palestinian crafts the manufacture of which the Society promoted. In a special annexe the Society exhibited a number of models of the Tabernacle and of the Temple in different periods, as well as a model of the Dome of the Rock made of Damascene mother of pearl work. A special exhibit was 'a German

not exoticism. Of all Mandatory architectural projects, the Palestine Pavilion at Wembley was the only one where Palestinians participated in determining the content, and tension between image and reality was the result.

The importance of the Palestine Pavilion was in specifically inviting an architectural portrait of the country. The result was perhaps somewhat superficial, but it stated a commitment to a regionalist approach that celebrated the oriental aspect of the country. The Palestine Archaeologcal Museum -another project dedicated to displaying Palestine that invited a portrait of the country -continued in this line. However, in the Museum, Harrison elevated colonial regionalism into a compelling and poetic representation of Palestine and Jerusalem. The simple idea of a display hall terminating in turret-like pavilions received a surprisingly imaginative interpretation in the Museum's design.

The first public museum ever to be established in Palestine was started in Jerusalem under Ottoman rule in 191 I. After 1917 the Pro-Jerusalem Society took care of the small municipal collection. When the Civil Government was constituted in 1920, the responsibility was transferred to the Department of Antiquities. The exhibits were housed in a small building on 'Museum Road' (today Piqud HaMerkaz), which was also shared by the ofices of the Department and the British School of Archaeology.1o1 Archaeological activity in Palestine greatly expanded under British administration, and the need for more space for exhibits and storage of findings was becoming increasingly pressing. Religious sentiment and the international interest in the subject of archaeology made the conservation and protection of antiquities politically highly sensitive.

The idea of building a museum in Jerusalem was perhaps first put forward by Patrick Geddes in his report on the planning ofJerusalem. A diagrammatic plan of a 'Proposed Museum Group', signed by Geddes and Mears and dating from November 1919, has survived (Fig. 13). Geddes even proposed a site: 'outside the NE corner of the old City', a description that perfectly suits the site eventually selected almost ten years later.''*

In the early 'zos, 'various projects' for a 'National Museum' were brought before Samuel by the newly established Department of Antiquities, and even the purchase of a site, a property within the Old City belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate, was contemplated.103 A set of plans for 'a building to house the Palestine Museum and Ofices of the Department of Antiquities', signed by Harrison on 25 March 1924, was prepared, no doubt, in this context.lo4 No funds were available however, and the proposal to finance the building out of an 'antiquities tax' to be levied on tourists was rejected. When, during Plumer's ofice, the state of public finance 'greatly improved', the Director of Antiquities, Prof. John Garstang, tried to revive the issue. He pointed out that the 'situation as regards to our museum accommodation . . . reached a crisis', and urged the allocation of a sum of ~16,000 necessary for the construction of a new museum to be completed in 1927."~ The Colonial O6ce expressed 'sympathy' with the idea, but flatly refused to authorize any expenditure.Io6 The museum was entered


... I.. 3.. 4,. ,..

I:::::::::? f ,.'


N.r re.4

A--c .,..,-.


,. ..-,,

,'.-,I*-., .,"-A"" ..,,,




Fig. I 3. Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears: Proposed Museum Group,]erusalem, November 1919: outline plan (Courtesy of Central Zionist Archives)

as an item in Plumer's 'Building Programme' of 1926,'~' and was likely to have remained a proposal, had not money come from an unexpected source.

In winter 1926, James Henry Breasted of the Chicago Oriental Institute, an American Egyptologst and archaeologst and a personality of stature, visited Palestine on various missions. Breasted had won the generous support of the American millionaire, John Rockefeller Jr., for a number of archaeologcal enterprises, including the excavations at Meggdo, which were one of the reasons for his visit. At the time, Breasted was negotiating with the Egyptian Government the conditions for a donation of$~o,ooo,oootowards the construction of an archaeologcal museum in Cairo. His son wrote that

When my father saw the old house where the Palestine Government was then attempting to display and store its share of the antiquities now rapidly accruing from the excavations of the annually increasing number of archaeological expeditions working in Palestine, it occurred to him that in Jerusalem too there existed a need for a museum building. He found an admirable vacant site overlooking Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives, between the Jericho Road and the Mosque of Omar; and ascertained confidentially that the British Mandate of Palestine . . . would welcome the gift of a museum and gladly expropriate the foregoing site.Io8

When the Egyptian Government, reacting perhaps to what it sensed as a patronizing gesture, declined Rockefeller's donation, the donor declared that 'he intended that Egypt's loss would be archaeology's gain elsewhere', and instructed Breasted to continue his negotiations with the Palestine High Commissioner. At first, Rockefeller was ready to offer $ro,ooo to cover the cost of preparatory plans to be made by an 'architect of eminence' in order 'to ascertain just what kind of a museum building the Palestine government would desire as meeting the needs of the situation'.lo9 A further $~o,ooowere offered to secure the site selected by Breasted. During 1927 a sum of $3oo,ooo was mentioned, and then of $~oo,ooo. Finally, Breasted informed Plumer that Mr Rockefeller was contemplating a contribution of $2,000,000 to be equally divided between the construction of an archaeologcal museum (also to accommodate the offices of the Antiquities Department) and an 'endowment fund' for its maintenance.l1° The pledge was officially announced in a carefully worded letter to Plumer, signed by Rockefeller on 13 October 1927."'

In spite of Breasted's explicit demand that the architect should be 'of eminence', everyone -including Breasted himself- seemed to take it for granted that Harrison would design the building. Breasted had met Harrison in Jerusalem and there was mutual understanding between the two. Breasted may have taken Harrison's advice concerning the site. The choice of site was, according to Iliffe, the first Keeper of the Museum, Harrison's idea.''' In May 1927, less than three months after Rockefeller's first pledge of $~o,ooo, Harrison completed his first plans for the museum, which were immediately sent to Breasted. The updated version of these, completed in November the same year, received Breasted's enthusiastic approval.l13 In the same month, after Rockefeller's official letter had arrived, Plumer flatly informed the Colonial Office: 'The architect of the Museum will be A. St. B. Harrison the Government Architect in whose competence for the task I have complete trust."14 The appointment remained 'a secret' between Breasted, Plumer and Harrison for some time. There had already been considerable grumbling in the Jewish press for not putting the High Commis- sioner's Residence to competition, and now even the RIBA thought that a competition would be appropriate. 'I am sure there will be a howl and suggestions that there should be a competition, and I may, after all, not get the job. Why Lord Plumer has such faith in me I cannot imagine', Harrison wrote home.l15 However, with Plumer's and Breasted's support, Harrison's appointment was secure, and the architectural branch of the Public Works Department was now re-organized to handle the large project. Harrison travelled to London to recruit additional architectural staff.'16 The final design was developed during 1929, and work on detailed drawings began. Rockefeller, who visited Egypt and Palestine with Breasted in the beginning of the year, had an opportunity to inspect a model and to approve it."' The foundation stone was laid in July 1930 and the building completed in 1935. It was occupied that year by the Department of Antiquities. Although facilities were available for scholars since its completion, the building was opened to the public in an official ceremony only in 13 January 1938. By then, Harrison had already left Palestine.

The Design

Drawings of three stages of the design, beside the final one, survive. As the sequence of plans demonstrates, Harrison's starting point was a conventional solution, based on Beaux Arts procedures, unrelated to the specific qualities of the site. Yet, without abandoning his orignal esquisse, Harrison eventually developed an unusually sensitive dialogue with the final site. The earliest drawings, prepared in 1924 before Rockefeller's involvement and for another site, first displayed this basic solution for a museum design (Fig. 14). The plan consisted of a cloistered court surrounded on three sides by long exhibition halls, while the entrance side was occupied by the offices of


Fig. 14. Palestine Archaeological Museum:first scheme, 25 A4arch 1924: plan

the Department of Antiquities. Two service wings, centred on small courts, were attached to the main block at the two front corners. Two rotundas, one octagonal and the other round, placed at the two other corners, served to link the three exhibition halls together. This arrangement of halls terminating in rotundas echoes the solution of the Wembley pavilion, while the shapes of the rotundas recall eighteenth-century mannerisms, for example as in Chiswick House. At the same time, the plan as a whole suggests an Islamic analogy as well: the 'Mausoleum of Barquq and Faraj' in Cairo, with its square court and the two turbes at the corners (Fig. I~)."' The arcades in the court were meant to accommodate sarcophag and other items which seem to have been kept at the time at the old museum court. Two ancient columns of similar orign were to stand in the small service courts.

In May 1927, with $10,000 already granted, but the final sum still uncertain, it was wise to prepare ambitious plans. The small 1924 scheme was thus blown up into an extensive, and somewhat labyrinthine complex, laid out in pedantic Beaux Arts rationality (Fig. I 6). l9 Exhibition space was enlarged, and the two court-centred administrative wings of the earlier version became substantial wings containing the offices of the department and many technical facilities. A tall three-tiered tower now appeared above the entrance hall. Accommodation was considerably reduced in the

Fig. I 5. ibfausoleutn ofBarquq G Faraj, Cairo (Briggs, Muhammadan Architecture in Egypt & Palestine, 1924)

Fig. 16. Palestine Archaeological 

Museum. second scheme, May 1927 

perspective views (Courtesy afthe 

Rockefeller ,1/1ureurn G Central 

Zionist Archives) 

more sober version of November 192~.'~'There was one inner court surrounded by three elongated exhibition galleries and an entrance wing with a tower, the four units being connected to each other by four rotundas. Passage-like halls for scholars' use ran along the exterior side of the galleries. The two administrative courts were canted 45degrees in relation to the main block, using the two front rotundas as hinges, in response to the triangular shape of the plot. The two canted masses half-embraced an oval entrance piazza in front of the building. In the final design the courts received a triangular shape, a modification that improved the transport of artefacts through the building by creating a straight undisturbed passage leading into the service wings. The development of the plans was accompanied by the construction of models.'*'

It is only in this final version that Harrison's poetic response to the site begns to emerge (Figs 17 and 18). Thus, the positioning of the building, which at first seems merely to follow the bisector of the triangular shape of the plot, turns out to refer to another aspect of the site: an enormous ancient pine tree and an eighteenth-century Arab summer-house (qasr). According to Iliffe, the first keeper of the museum, it was


Rockefeller's express request that these two features be 'retained in an organic relation to the U use urn'.'^^ Rockefeller's wish could not have been fulfilled more successfully. In the final design, the main centre-line of the plan ran through the old pine tree, turning it into an unexpected counterpart of the tower. The arbitrary, organic and ephemeral (the tree finally collapsed in the 1990s) was lovingly embraced by the rationality of Beaux Arts procedure. In the final design the tree stands in the centre of a cloistered court (never realized), which served to integrate the summer house into the plan as a whole.

The site presented more than problems of alignment. The Museum not only occupied a plot which was immediately adjacent to the city walls, but also stood on a hill that towered above them, offering a view of the domed houses of the city and the Haram Mosques. The Jericho Road declines rather steeply towards the Kedron valley and the resulting 'canyon' added drama to the immediate relationship between hill and city. When viewed from a distance, especially from the ancient vantage point of Mount Scopus, the Museum was seen in the foreground, with the Holy City extending behind it. The site obviously called for a careful consideration of the dialogue between the new building and the Old City.

Harrison managed the immediate relationship with masterly architectural histri- onics. The access road which leaves the descending Jericho Road, ascends slowly along a slightly curved boundary wall (Fig. 19). The wall leads the eye to the corner of the triangular administrative wing, where a round barbican with a small mysterious door, confronts the visitor. The 'barbican' housed on the first floor the meeting room of the Archaeologcal Advisory Board that 'watched over' the Museum's activities.123 The road here changes its curve, and Harrison has made the contour of the southern wing follow the curve. The soft transition between the round barbican and the curving wall is a detail of great delicacy. The visitor proceeds along a massive, almost windowless, white wall, curious where the curve would lead him. Suddenly he passes by an arched gate with heavy ironwork and then another one (Department of Antiquities and staff entrance), which offer him a glimpse of the triangular administrative court (Fig. zo),which only intensifies his anticipation. Meanwhile, as he ascends, the domed roofs of the Old City are about to be revealed above the Walls on his right. The road is now supported by a curvilinear retaining wall, which rests on the living rock. The Jericho road below is thus enclosed between two walls, dramatically facing each other (Fig. 21).The impressive contrast between the wall and the rough rock actually repeats a feature of the City Wall, which most of the way from the Damascus Gate stands similarly on exposed rock.

The wall of the administrative wing ends abruptly, and as the visitor turns the corner, the main faqade of the Museum is finally revealed to him (Fig. 22).Because of the canting of the service wings, the visitor gains an oblique view of the entrance, which presents the elaborately calculated play of volumes of the entrance block in its full picturesque effect. Now, in order to face the faqade he has to turn his back on the Old City and follow the winding path along the planted oval roundabout to the main door. There he may glance in the direction of the main axis of the building which leads just past the north-east corner of the city walls, to an open view of the Valley of Kedron and Mount Olivet. Inside a new, introspective, experience awaits the visitor,


more to the nations of the west than that of any other country', and that 'an assertive obtrusiveness in the character of the building' should be avoided. 'Reverence', however, did not mean self-denial:

The practical value of being able to install a chronological arrangement all on one plane, that is on one floor, has produced a very long, low building. The roof line will be so low that seen against the skyline the horizontal extension of the building will seem extremely tenuous, depressed and totally laclung in any uplift. This impression will be enhanced by the fact that Harrison, very wisely as it seems to me, has given his building very reserved and austere lines, exclusivelv structural in character. Hence the need for something. more than merely the contours of the walls indspensable to the structure of the museu; halls and other ac;ually serviceable rooms of the buildingtz6

Breasted's support was a small victory to Harrison, but he himself had some misgivings about his own design. He wrote: 'If I was quite sure that the tower was right I feel Icould have it; but alas I am in two minds myself."27 So eventually he accepted Breasted's pragmatic suggestion to compromise, and lowered the tower. He also tested its shape and proportions through a clay model. The result was a highly orignal design based on three superimposed octagonal prisms (slightly recalling a contracted telescope) that makes the tower a memorable landmark. And today, when one watches from Mount Scopus, the squat, but not too squat, Museum tower appears to rise alongside the Dome the Rock without towering above it. Its octagonal shape echoes the octagonal plan of the Dome's base, thus rhyming without competing with it. 'Architectural good manners' produced a uniquely successful formula.

The dialogue between the building and the Old City had, however, another aspect, that of stylistic vocabulary and architectural reference. As in the High Commissioner's Residence, Harrison's uniquely personal language is based on thematic material drawn from the context of local architecture. 'Local architecture', it should be pointed out, is taken to embrace the indigenous vernacular as well as a wide range of oriental sources. This material was transformed through extreme abstraction into archetypal forms that transcended specific reference. In the Museum, the sources of Harrison's orientalism are both highly diverse and particularly elusive. Arches, niches, mouldings, cube-into- dome transitions evoke stock elements ofNear Eastern and Mediterranean architecture as well as the Palestinian vernacular. The massiveness of the structure invites details that recall Romanesque as much as oriental precedents, thus permitting crusader interpretations beside the Islamic ones. The court with its pool and tower in the background echoes, in general terms of composition, the Court of the Myrtles in the Alhambra Palace in Granada (Figs 23 and 24). The fountain pavilion itself cites a motive of rich Islamic genealogy.128 Harrison's idea of giving this pavilion the form of the archetypal domed cube of the Palestinian vernacular, is a brilliant re-interpretation. The vaulted arcade of the cloister may suggest several Islamic sources, but may have been primarily inspired by the celebrated cloistered courtyards of the Armenian quarter in the Old City.lZ9 The sources for the unique shape of the tower are particularly baffling. It is shaped as a cube transformed into a three-tiered octagonal prism, concealing inside a dome and the space of the map room. This configuration may have drawn some inspiration from the rather recherchk prototype of the 'tomb of Aulad b. Ahmad at Haditha', illustrated in one of Harrison's sketchbooks.130 The

diminutive blind arcades in the second tier of the tower appear Romanesque but could be Islamic as well. The perforated crown of the tower suggests a free re-interpretation of the parapets of Old City houses with their characteristic patterns of earthenware tubes. The dome concealed in the interior of the tower is carried on two tiers of squinches of Islamic-Romanesque flavour. Finally, the Palestinian rubble vaults, by now Harrison's hallmark, were used here in extravagance. Vaults, in various patterns, covered the rotundas, the library, the entrance hall and the western transverse hall. All were constructed in indigenous method, as photographs document, except the large dome over the entrance hall. The earthquake of 1927 demonstrated the susceptibility of such vaults to tremor, and the large dome was constructed of heavily reinforced concrete. The two main galleries have flat cassette ceilings also of reinforced concrete.

Harrison's 'abstract orientalism' aspired to more than reduction of precedent; it was motivated by a search for architectural essence. The formal vocabulary of the Museum suggests that Harrison identified as an essential trait of the vernacular of Jerusalem and at the same time, of other historic or vernacular traditions in the Near-Eastern and the Mediterranean (Romanesque included) -a reliance on simple volumetric units. While these traditions often readily lent themselves to such interpretation, this reading was also motivated, no doubt, by the tendency of the taste of the '20s toward purist aesthetic of simple geometric volumes. Thus, the design of the Museum suggests that -much in the spirit of Le Corbusier's famous interpretation of Rome Harrison chose to read the townscape of Jerusalem as an aggregation of primary volumes. But rather than rely on platonic bodies as did Le Corbusier, Harrison turned to the most essential 'building block' of the townscape ofJerusalem -the ubiquitous domed cube -and derived from it a larger typology. The domed prismatic form of the basic vernacular unit gave rise to a diverse set ofvariations (Figs. 18 & 25).

The domed cube, stated in the most simple and literal way, is the first element that welcomes the visitor to the Museum. It constitutes the vestibule. Just behind it stands its most elaborate derivation, the tower over the entrance gallery, consisting of a cube, superimposed, as we have already noticed above, by an octagonal prism, itself crowned by two additional octagons; the 'shoulders' that facilitate transition from cube to octagon involve a triangle and half an hexagonal pyramid. The two western 'corner rotundas' are cubes transformed into octagons, in fact, an abridged version of the tower. The eastern rotundas are pure octagonal prisms capped with domes. The 'Arranpng Room' at the northern end is also an octagonal prism, capped by a smaller octagon. The spiral staircases at the angle of the triangular administrative courts are likewise enclosed in a prism. When viewed through the gate, the staircases join the octagonal corner rotunda and the tower to form a brilliant ensemble of prisms. The domed cube at the entrance is repeated at the western end of the court, only this time with a thin slice of an octagon between it and the dome. A single example of a cylinder appears in the 'barbican' by the access road, where rounded shapes dominate.

These prismatic forms now assume various parts in larger ensembles. Thus, the entrance block is a carefully thought-out unit that incorporates two of elements of the set. Its plan is a square that envelopes two other square elements: the Vestibule, and the Tower Hall. The vestibule consists of a simple domed space which is extended by two barrel-vaulted arms. On the faqade, it appears as a domed cube, while the arms are represented by 'folds', that 'mediate' between the cube and the larger volume of the entrance block into which it is partly sunk. The effect is faintly Art Deco. The Tower Hall repeats the same configuration on a larger scale and in a more elaborate manner: a domed square hall (this time a complex dome on squinches) with barrel-vaulted extensions. The dome is concealed in the tower, but the barrel vaults and their curving stone-covered exterior surfaces are exposed on the exterior. Keeping the same proportions between each cube and its extensions results in the plan of the entrance block in a geometry based on the golden mean (Fig. I 7).

At the other end of the court stands another unit that consists of the fountain pavilion and the gallery behind it. This unit actually repeats in a transformed, subdued version the composition of the entrance block, and the visitor may experience a lund of revelation when he realizes the fact as he looks across the court through the arched aperture of the Tower Hall. The tower is substituted by the silhouette of the pine tree, that stood, as we have seen, on the main centre-line. In the interior of the gallery, the dome of the Tower Hall has been replaced by a groined vault, again extended by barrels. The fountain pavilion turns out to be a variation of the domed cube of the vestibule. Lateral 'folds', imitating those on the entrance block elevation, again indicate barrel extensions to the dome. The fountain itself (now dismantled) consisted of a cluster of prisms (of hexagonal section), a poetic statement of a principle which underlies the whole composition. The water of the fountain found its way to a shallow channel cut into the steps that lead down to the pool at the sunk part of the court. Considering Harrison's didactic thinlung, one should not be surprised to find even in the design of these steps an echo of the cube and its lateral 'folds' (Fig. 23).l3'

The largest ensemble, of course, is the Museum itself. The 'prisms' serve as joints in the 'web' of horizontal stretches of galleries and office wings. When seen from a distance everything joins together to form a picturesque cluster of domes, turrets and walls which seems almost like a miniature town (Fig. 26).

The web of galleries and rotundas confines three open spaces that also deserve some attention: the two triangular administrative courts and the central court (if we count the service court on the north we have four). The triangular courts create an extraordinary spatial effect. They have the appeal of irrational vernacular spaces, while still being symmetrical and calculated. The shadows that creep over the walls as the sun moves, and the changng hues of the concave white wall in the south court are pure architectural poetry. The highlight of the whole complex, however, is the central court. It is here that the composition as a whole can be appreciated. The visitor, who strolls out to examine the sarcophag and other exhibits displayed in the vaulted cloisters that encircle the court, is also invited to contemplate the dialogue and interrelation between the architectural components. The tension between the tower and the pavilion dominates the space. The treatment of the court itself reminds one Harrison's predilection for sunk gardens at the High Commissioner's Residence. The Museum court is an inversion, as it were, of the 'telescope silhouette' of the tower. The surface of the court is broken into three levels. The second is one step lower than the first. The third level is a metre deep and is reached by two sets of steps on either end. Its circumference is lined with a box hedge (which was to be rigdly trimmed), and in the centre there is the pool. There is something disturbing in these recessed


country, as well as on its present identity. What would the Museum convey if read as such a comment? The trilingual inscriptions on the Museum's walls -in English, Arabic and Hebrew, the three official languages of Mandatory Palestine -hint at the difficulty of devising a national symbol in a land the identity of which was being passionately contested. The Hebrew inscriptions were plastered over after 1948 when Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule, and re-exposed after 1967 by the Israeli authorities.

The 'past of Palestine' was as difficult to comment upon as was its present. Besides, the past always assumes its significance in the light of the present. It was through the past that Palestine's modem contenders could seek to establish their legitimacy, and various periods of the past assumed different values accordingly. Furthermore, in a land the history ofwhich was deeply charged for millions of believers of three religons around the world, the meaning of the past was measured against interests much wider than those of its inhabitants and rulers. How displaying the past of Palestine could become a contest over the shaping of the past is demonstrated by the schematic plan for a museum prepared by Patrick Geddes in 1919 in connexion with his sweeping proposals for the Hebrew University (Fig. 13).'~~

Geddes proposed to present the history of Palestine as embodied by two narratives, the 'general' and the 'Jewish', which converged in modern times to create the 'New Palestine'. Accordingly, he envisaged two galleries, one documenting a chronology beginning in prehistory and ending in the Great War, the other beginning in the Israelites' exodus from Egypt and finally leading to the Diaspora and Zionism. The two galleries met in a hall dedicated to modern Palestine. To the Mandatory Government such an interpretation was unthinkable. Eric Gill's relief over the main entrance presented Palestine as a tree growing on the frontier between Asia and Africa. The conflicting influences of Egypt and Mesopotamia were an important aspect of archaeological research in Palestine at the period. It certainly was of deep interest to Breasted, whose research embraced the archaeology of the two ancient cultures involved in the battle of ~e~gid0.l~~

As a comment on the contemporary identity of Palestine it had limited meaning, unless it was taken to suggest that the history of Palestine has always evolved under the impact of world powers. The Museum offered a more detailed reading of Palestinian history in the ten sculptured panels by Eric Gill installed between the arches of the courtyard arcades. These symbolize the civilizations (from Canaanites to Crusaders) that shaped the history of the Holy Land. Their sequence indicates, in fact, the content and chronological sequence of the display in the galleries that confined the court. In other words, the Museum presented the history of Palestine with scientific 'impartiality' as a parade of episodes that did not progress toward the fulfilment of a destiny (although ending the sequence in the crusades may have some meaning).I3(j The implication was that the history of the country transcended its makers: conquerors came and went, but the spirit of the land remained ancient, eternal and constant.13' Its present would-be masters -contesting communities as well as its guardian power -should unite in their respect of the spirit of the land, not pursue sectarian and short-sighted interests. Harrison's architecture, and its 'transcendental' approach to regonalism, also promoted this notion of the abstract, timeless spirit of the land. The language of abstract and universal form that he distilled from his diverse selection of oriental precedents addressed a Palestine of the mind that transcended, but also evaded, the aching

Museum, representing the past of Palestine, were conceived as architectural portraits of the country, not as explicit expressions of a colonial master's culture. However, Mandatory architecture belonged in a period which began to acknowledge the reactionary implications of colonial paternalism, and consequently also to criticize the regonalist approach in colonial architecture. Moreover, the modernizing aspects of the Mandate also demanded expression, which too literal regonalism could not satisfy. Harrison's architecture represents an attempt to resolve the dilemmas of colonial representation by following a 'transcendental strategy', that is, by focusing on universal and timeless values that appeared to be above the vexing contemporary problems. This was the strategy suggested by Lutyens' approach in New Delhi, and more fully realized by his disciple Arthur Shoosmith in the St Martin's Garrison Church. Traditionalist architects, outside the colonial context, adopted at the same period a similar strategy to counter modernist call for an architectural revolution in the name of the new technical and social problems of a machine age.

Harrison's transcendental manner based itself first and foremost on Beaux-Arts- inspired rationality. Putting aside classicist vocabulary, he found in Beaux Arts teachings a theory of design that offered universal and eternal principles of architecture. These, he could claim, were as valid for the Orient as they were for the West. Harrison's use of axially ordered Islamic/Near-Eastern plan-types seems to demon- strate how well oriental compositions agreed with rational Beaux Arts procedures. The four-iwan plan, for example, with its two major centre-lines, could fit perfectly into an axial Beaux Arts composition. Furthermore, when abstracted of detail, Harrison seems to imply, Cinili &osk -the model of a four-iwaned pavilion that inspired the plans of the Residences at Amman and Jerusalem -was not so far apart from a western archetypal pavilion suchas Villa Rotonda. In terms of composition, the domed turbes at the Barquq and Faraj mausoleum could be equated with the corner rotundas in an English plan such as Chiswick House. In both the Residence and the Museum the oriental and western are juxtaposed as if to demonstrate the affinity between the two: in the Residence the Palladian cross-into-square articulation of the tower is superimposed on the four-iwan drawing room; the Museum stands by the walls of the Old City like a transformed reflexion of it, achieved, however, though rational Beaux Arts procedures.

While the universal ideal of rational composition helped Harrison to disprove the discord between oriental and western-Classical design, he used radical abstraction to universalize oriental formal vocabulary and make it compatible with Beaux Arts conceptions. Rather than merely cite oriental forms, Harrison extracted from a wide array of oriental precedents a limited number of primary forms -the round arch, the pointed arch, the domed cube -from which he rationally and methodically developed a diverse typology of architectural elements. These were vaguely oriental, but at the same time, could be read as elementary compositions independent of precedent. All was designed in emphatic simplicity, and the aura ofplatonic perfection was completed by the use of pure, glaring white, local limestone.

Through the universalizing treatment of oriental and indigenous sources Harrison could claim not only to have disproved the discord between East and West, but also reconcile Old and New. This has won his style, as we have seen, a critic's epithet 'Near-Eastern ~odernism'.'~~

Harrison's transcendental manner was after all in the spirit of the time. His 'stripped orientalism' was comparable with the stripped classicism explored at the time by Holden and others; and the stark monumentdty of the white limestone masses recalls the Portland-stone monumentality in vogue in Britain at the period. At the same time, this ponderous inter-war style could harmonize perfectly with the landscape of Palestine. The sharp Mediterranean sun gave Harrison's purism a vitality that its Portland-stone counterparts rarely enjoyed under British slues. Furthermore, the modern elemental manner agreed well with the stark simplicity and cubic forms of the Palestinian vernacular. Thus, paradoxically, Harrison could present the vernacular, the symbol of a place-specific tradition, as miraculously universal and modern. 'The clear-cut three dimensional forms of the rural houses . . . in the High Atlas, in the Palestinian hills and the Cyclades', he wrote, is 'strangely in accord with the spirit of the age.'139 These rural houses were the best inspiration for the architecture of 'a new world'. This reading of the Mediterranean vernacular was advocated in the period by traditionalists and modernists alike: witness Le Corbusier.

There was one important aspect of Mandatory Palestine that Harrison's representa- tional architecture did not seem to acknowledge: the Jewish National Home. The position implied by the orientalizing architecture was that Palestine may harbour in it a Jewish National Home, but it is essentially an oriental country. Perhaps Harrison expected the Jews of Palestine to identify themselves with the oriental nature of the country. This is suggested in a letter to friend in Israel in the 1950s. He wrote: 'you Jews entered Palestine under the wrong auspices -as Westerners instead as of orientals. Perhaps, when the Moghrabis and Yemenis have risen to the top of your state, things may be righted.'l4' In any case, in the 1920s, when the buildings were designed, even Jewish architects in Palestine were experimenting in oriental motives and Harrison's oriental references need not have appeared as a calculated negative gesture towards the National Home. At the same time, Harrison's architecture did not seek to celebrate Palestinian Arab nationalism either. His regionalism aimed at an underlying spirit of the land, a timeless, mysterious continuity that transcended the contemporary conflict. The government should impartially seek the good of the land, keeping above 'sectarian' interests. This was the moral implication of the transcendental strategy in architecture. This position is implied in another remark made in one of Harrison's letters: 'How heartily sick I am of political propaganda vested as aesthetical criticism. Planning today is riddled with political propaganda -left or right. Only Patrick Geddes of all planners was above it. So much so that all the pigmies about him thought he lived only in the clouds. He was always aware of the eternal -that which was, is and will be. To such men left or right is monkey chatter.'14' The merit of this strategy was also its drawback: focusing on the timeless went well with high ideals both morally and architecturally, but also led to a somewhat patronizing detachment.

It is no wonder, therefore, if Harrison's architecture won respect in Palestine, but had no influence on local design. It conveyed no-one's aspirations. It is interesting to compare the Residence of the Chief British Representative at Amman with the first royal palaces there. Royal construction in the '20s seemed to follow a late Ottoman concept of modernity. Vernacular vaulted construction and purist cubic forms used in the Representative's Residence remained apparently a British fascination. The villa


designed by Erich Mendelsohn for Haim Weitzmann, the leader of the Zionist Organization (and later the president of the state of Israel), was perhaps the Jewish reply to the High Commissioner's ~esidence.'~' Mendelsohn was both a modernist and a declared regonalist, and his regonalism was coupled with outspoken political ideas: 'Palestine can only be built up in close colloboration [sic] with Arabs and that she can become a place of well-being only in case both peoples come to an understand- ing."43 However, Mendelsohn was a regonalist without being an orientalist. He wanted his building to fit harmoniously into the Palestinian landscape, but did not feel a need to engage Palestinian Arab culture itself. That was the strategy for a paternalistic trustee, not an open-minded rival. Another important analogy with Mandatory architecture was the design of the new Turkish capital in Ankara in the 1920s. The Turkish republic asserted its independence and progress through modem architecture, leaving behind a historicist phase of national r~manticism.'~~

Yohanan (Eugene) Ratner, one of the leading architects of the Yishuv and a modernist, pointed at the Turkish example as a model for new representational architecture in oriental countries: 'If the countries of the Orient are destined to have in the future national architectural idioms, they should probably follow the way taken by Kemal Ataturk, part with the past and start adapting modern architecture to the needs of their c~untries."~~

Finally, if the colonial content of Mandatory architecture is inevitably an aspect of its evaluation, when one faces the integrity and intensity of Harrison's architecture, one cannot let the criticism of the moral premises of colonialism be the last word. Within the limitations of colonialism, this architecture has risen up to the moral and architectural challenge. It makes a poetic and compelling response to the complex meaning and charged landscape of the country. The Museum, and the fountain at its heart, will always have a place in the architectural history of Jerusalem as a hymn in stone to the eternal city, the expression of the deepest feelings of one of its most dedicated conquerors.


This essay is based on material from Ron Fuchs, Austen St. Barbe Harrison: a British Architect in the Holy Land, DSc thesis, Technion, Haifa, 1992 [in Hebrew].

I Henry Kendall, Jerusalem, the City Plan, Preservation and Development during the British Mandate 1918-1948 (London, 1948)) foreword, p. v. 2 For a survey of the New Delhi discourse see Robert G. Irving, Indian Summer (New Haven, 1981), pp. 90-116; Thomas R. Metcalf, An Imperial Vision -Indian Architecture and Britain's Raj (Berkeley, 1989), pp. 210-39. 3 The concept of colonial trusteeship was succinctly formulated in an often-quoted passage from Edmund Burke's speech in Parliament on Fox's East India Bill, 1783. On the place of the concept of trusteeship in colonial discourse of the inter-war period, see Penelope Hetherington, British Paternalism and Afria 1920-1940 (London, 1978). chapter 3, pp. 45-60. 4 For a more detailed discussion of the meanings of 'colonial regionalism' and for relevant references, see Ron Fuchs and Gilbert Herbert, 'A Colonial Portrait of Jerusalem', in Nezar AlSayyad (ed.), Hybrid Urbanism (forthcoming 2000). 5 Metcalf, Imperial Vision, p. 234. Explicit criticism of the paternalistic and reactionary dimension of colonial preservationism began to be heard only in the 1930s and '40s: see a survey of the discourse in D. A. Low, Lion Rampant (London, 1973), pp. 39-81; Hetherington, British Paternalism, pp. 61-75 and passim.


6 On Beaux Arts ideas and their impact in the twentieth century, although mostly in the American context, 
see Richard A. Etlin, Symbolic Space: French Enlightenment Architecture and its Legacy (Chicago, 1994). 
7 For the evolution of Lutyens' manner, see Christopher Hussey, The Lfe ofEdwin Lutyens (London, 1950, 
reprinted 1984). 
8 In 1932: quoted in Gavin Stamp, 'British Architecture of the Thirties, an Introduction', Architectural Deskn 
49, no. IO/I I (1979): 2-25, p. 9. 
9 As succinctly put by the Italian architect Marcello Piacentini, 'Le Corbusier's "The Engneer's Aesthetic" ', 
in Architettura e Arti Decorativi, 11 (1922), pp. 220-23, translated in P. Serenyi (ed.), Le Corbusier in Perspective 
(Englewood Cliffs, 1975), pp. 26-27. Other architects argued similarly: see especially reference to Howard 
Robertson's publications in Alan Colquhoun, Modernity and the Classical Tradition (Cambridge MA, 1989), 

PP 45-46. 10 Cf. Metcalf's interpretation: 'Unlike Baker's . . . Lutyens' Chattris are not drawn from any existing model, but represent the basic form . . . Many of his Indic designs . . . were created of abstract forms not directly related to Inda's past.' Through this abstraction he 'sought to sidestep the issue' (Imperial Vision, pp. 237-38). Similarly, classical detail had, according to Lutyens, 'to be so digested that there is nothing but essence left' (quoted, ibid., pp. 230-3 I). 11 On Shoosmith and the St Martin's Garrison church, see Gavin Stamp, 'Indian Summer', Architectural Review 159 (June 1976), pp 365-72; Irving, Indian Summer, pp. 334-38. 12 Christopher Hussey, 'ACrusader Castle ofToday', Country Lij2 LXX, no. 1815 (October 193 I), pp. 480-86. 13 Assessing how preservationist or interventionist Mandatory administration actually was is beyond the scope of this paper. For recent general appraisals of Mandatory administration, see Gideon Blger, An Empire in the Holy Land: Historical Geography ofthe British Administration in Palestine 1917-1929 (New York and Jerusalem, 1994); Naomi Shepherd, Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-1948 (1999). 14 For a recent account of Palestinian vernacular, see Fuchs, 'The Palestinian Arab House and the Islarmc "Primitive Hut" ', Muqamas 15 (1998), pp. 157-77. I j On Storrs' and Ashbee's initiatives in Jerusalem, see Ronald Storrs, Orientations (London, 1937; rev. 1942); Alan Crawford, C. R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist (New Haven and London, 198 5); Benjamin Hyman, British Planners in Palestine 1918-1936, PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (1994). I6 Article 2 I. 17 Above, note I 18 Storrs, Orientations, p. 310. 19 For representative essays on Jewish Modernism in Palestine, see Gilbert Herbert, 'On the Fringes of the International Style: Transmissions and Transformations', Architecture SA (september/0ctobir 1987), pp. 36-43; idem. and Silvina Sosnovsky, Bauhaus on the Camel and the Crossroads ofEmpire (Jerusalem, 1993); Iremel Kamp-Bandau et al., Tel Aviv Modem Architecture 1930-1939 (Berlin, 1994); Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, 'Contested Zionism -Alternative Modernism: Erich Mendelsohn and the Tel Aviv Chug in Mandate Palestine', Architectural History 39 (1996), pp. 147-80. 20 After Harrison's service in Palestine he had a long career as a private architect, working from 1938 in partnership with Pierce Hubbard and T. S. Barnes. In this period he handled a number of large projects which included Nuffield College, Oxford (1938-58), a post-war reconstruction and town-planning scheme for Valletta, Malta (1943-45) and the Gold Cost University, now in Ghana (1952-). For published material on Harrison, see: Obituary, The Times, 14 February 1976; an account of the design of Nufield College in Howard Colvin, Unbuilt Oxford (1983); photographs of buildings in Kendall, Jerusalem; various references in David Kroyanker, Jerusalem Architecture (a series), The Period of the British Mandate 1918-1948 (Jerusalem, 1989) [Hebrew]; Fuchs, Thesis; idem., 'Public Works in the Holy Land: Government Building under the British Mandate in Palestine', Architectural History Millennial Issue (zooo); The Macmillan Dictionary ofArt (London, 1996). On Harrison's unrealized Cyprus Government House 193 1-33 and other work in Cyprus, see M. Given, K. W. Schaar and G. Theocharous, Under the Clock: Colonial Architecture and History in Cyprus 1878-1960 (Nicosia, 1995), pp. 73-76; Michael Given, 'Star of the Parthenon, Cypriot Mtlange: Education and Representation in Colonial Cyprus', Journal of Mediterranean Studies, vol. 7, no. I(1997), pp. 59-82. And see below publications on specific buildings. See also A. St B. Harrison and R. P. S. Hubbard, Valletta: a Report to Accompany the Outline Planfor Valletta and the Three Cities (Malta, 1945).


Official correspondence concerning Mandatory projects is found chiefly in the relevant files of the C0733 series in the Public Record Off~ce (PRO), Kew and in the Mandatory PWD files at the Israel State Archives, Jerusalem (ISA). PWD Archives, HaNevi'lm Street, Jerusalem (PWDJ), recently dissolved, held many rolls of drawings from the Mandatory PWD.

Harrison's personal archive was in the possession of his heir, Mr Dimitri Papadimos (DP) in Athens, when

R. Fuchs examined it in 1990. It includes a volume of retyped personal correspondence, sketchbooks and photographs. Portfolios of photographs, newspaper cuttings and architectural publications belongng to this collection (AH) had been transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The greater part of Harrison's personal material relating to the Palestine period was destroyed in Cairo in 1942; in 1968 all the documents of the Harrison, Hubbard & Barnes firm were apparently destroyed when the office closed down; and before his death Harrison burned a large portion of his personal papers. 21 At first he worked under T. H. Mawson in the English Technical Mission in Greece and then was employed directly by the Greek government. 22 Personal sheet submitted by Harrison, 1927: RIBA archives. 23 Harrison to Pudsey, Dir. PWD, 21September 1926, ISA 13/3/3(1), box 4127. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Lawrence Durrell, Bitter Lemons (London, 1957), p. 98. 27 To Markus Reiner, 12 August 1947, retyped DP. Reiner, who later achieved international repute as a physicist and became a professor in the Technion, worked in the '20s in the PWD as a civil engneer and made the static calculations for Harrison's build~ngs. He became a lifelong friend. On Reiner, see Scott Blair, 'Prof. Markus Reiner: a Biographical Sketch', in D. Abir (ed.),Contributions to Mechanics (Oxford, 1969). 28 15 January 1932, Tate Gallery. On Harrison's friendship with Bomberg, see relevant references in Richard Cork, David Bomberg (New Haven and London, 1987). For Bomberg's portrait of Harrison, see Art Review, 4

July 1986. 
29 'Dome of the Rock', The Sphinx (Cairo, 1946): newspaper cutting, AH. 
30 H. B. Lees, Dir. PWD, abstract from Harrison's personal file, C073 3/145/57021/1A. 
3I For oficial correspondence on the Amman ~esidence, see in the C0733 series: I I 1/1430, I I 1/2037,122/ 
3188, 25/50155, 25/50158, 57/19617, 43/14200, 24/41583, 138/44359; ISA 13/y, box 4129. For published 
material, see 'The British Residence, Amman, Transjordan', The Architects' Journal, 28 December 1932, 

PP 835ff. 

32 On Philby as well as an account of the political events, see Elizabeth Monroe, Philby ofArabia (London, 
33 Samuel to CO, 28 September 1922, C0733/25/50158. See also Monroe, Philby, pp. 117f. 

34 Plans in Appenzeller Archive, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem (CZA); C0733/43/14200. For the final plans and photographs of the complete building, see The Architects'Journal, 28 December 1932. 35 Plumer to Amery, 6 January 1926, C0733/43/14200. I dunam = 1,000sq. m. 36 C0733/138/443596; ISA 13/9, boxqrz9. 37 Memorandum, 4 January 1926, C0733/111/2037. 38 A few pages in Harrison's sketchbooks (DP), dating however from his post-Palestine period, are dedicated to SyrianQa'as. Judging by the selection of examples and the details, the source for these plans is almost certainly a paper on the subject that appeared at the time: Oscar Reuther, 'Die Qa'a', Jahrbuch der Asiatischen Kiinst 11 (1925)~pp. 205-16. The place of the Kiosk in domestic four-iwan typology was pointed out in Franz Oelmann, Haus und Hofim Altertum (Berlin and Leipzig, 1927), fig. 69. Another source for Harrison may have been 'The Saracenic House', Burlington Magazine XXXVIII (1921), pp. 228-38,289-301, later included in M. S. Briggs, Muhammadan Architecture in Egypt and Palestine (Oxford, 1924). Harrison, no doubt, was also aware of the vaulted four-iwanhalls in the Mamluk religous institutions in the Old City. For examples see Michael Burgoyne with D. S. Richards, MamlukJerusalem (London 1987): the Arghuniyya, fig. 32.3; Tashtamuriyya, fig. 45.3; Tankiziyya, fig. 18.2. 39 The Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi, who became at some point a close friend of Harrison, pointed out in his publications the climatic advantages of the qa'a: see W. Sheerer and A. A. Sultan (eds), A'atural Enegy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with Reference to Hot Climates (Chicago, 1986). 40 On the early Moslern palace at Amman, see Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Architecture: Form, Function and Meaning (New York, 1904), pp. 377-81 and references there. The affinity between the Cinili Kiosk and the


Amman pavilion was pointed out in a publication that Harrison may have noted: W. Bachmann et al., Petra (Berlin, I~ZI), fig. 62, p. 71. 41 Harrison to Dir. of PWD, Jerusalem: Memorandum on the Bethlehem Road project for the High Commissioner's Residence (see below), 24 August 1927: C0733/145/57021/1A. On Palestinian vaulting, see Fuchs, 'The Palestinian Arab House and the Islamic "Primitive Hut" ', Muqarnas 15 (1998), pp. 157-77 (167-68). The vaulting technique common in central Palestine was also used in old Jordanian centres such as Es-Salt. 42 Harrison to his parents, 7 July 1927, retyped DP. 43 For official correspondence concerning the Jerusalem Residence see C0733 series: 98/48132, 102/27263, 106/51548, 129/12076, 137/44290, 168/67130, 145/57021, 1y4/77375, 200/87087, 234/17287; ISA 13/3/3 (vols I, 2, 7-11). box 4127. For published material, Hussey, ' "A Crusader Castle of Today"; The New Jerusalem Government House', Architectural Review LXX, no. 419 (October 193 I), pp. 106f., I 15. 44 On the Augusta Victoria, see Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, A City ReJZected in its Times: New Jerusalem -the Beginnings (Jerusalem, 1y7y), pp. 467-71 (in Hebrew). Translated as Jerusalem in the 19th Century: the Emergence ofthe New City (New York, 1986). 45 For correspondence concerning the use of the building, see C0733/1oz/zo8~5 and 114/y4y I. 46 As pointed out in The Times, I; April 1926, p. I5a. 47 CO733/1zy/12076. 48 A large house known as 'Haus Mahanaim', 34 Shivtei Israel, Jerusalem, built c. 1885 by the Swiss banker

J. Frutiger. On the house, see Ben-Arieh, op. cit., pp. 354E 
49 CO to Office ofworks, 4 April 1927: C0733/137/44290 
50 Ibid. 
51 Arnery to Plumer, 3 I August 1926: C0733/12y/12076. 
52 Note sheets, I July 1926: C0733/1~9/12076. 
53 Plurner to Amery, C0733/1~9/12076. 
54 Note sheets, 4 November 1926: C0733/129/12076. 
55 CO to CA, 12 September 1928: C0733/145/57021/1B. 
56 7 July 1927, retyped DP. 
57 Amery, 16 October 1928: C0733/145/57021. 
58 2 November 1928: Rhodes House Library, Oxford, MSS Brit. Emp. S 284, Box 16/1. 
59 Harrison to Pudsey, Dir. PWD, zoJune 1929: ISA 13/3/3(1), box 4127. 
60 The first two remain obscure. A drawing that survived at PWDJ, dated 25 March I924 (i.e. during 
Samuel's term of office) describing what appears to be a spacious mansion, may represent the first project: 
reproduced Fuchs, Thesis, fig. B6.1. The second was possibly a proposal for the adaptation of the house in 

Jerusalem requisitioned by Plumer after the earthquake. 
61 Harrison to Dir. PWD, 24 August 1927: C0733/145/57021/1A 
62 Photographs of three sheets of drawings, including a ground plan, fa~ades, a section and a perspective view 
of a tower, are kept at the archives of the Architectural Heritage Research Centre, The Technion, Haifa. 
Otherwise the project left no trace in the surviving relevant correspondence in the Colonial Office or the 
Palestine PWD. 
63 On this house type see Fuchs, 'The Palestinian Arab House: the Ottoman Connection', in William 
Bechhoefer and Stanley Ireland (eds), The Ottoman House (London, 1998). 
64 For recent essays on Geddes' work in Jerusalem, see Hyman, British Planners in Palestine 1918-1936; Volker 

M. Welter, 'The Geddes Vision of the Regon as City -Palestine as "Polis" ', in J. Fiedler (ed.), Social Utopias 
of the Twenties (Wuppertal, I~YS),pp. 72-79; Diana Dolav, 'Architectural Orientalism in the Hebrew 
University -the Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears Master-Plan', Assaph, section B, no. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1998). 
65 Harrison to his stepfather, 6 March 1926, retyped DP. 
66 The plans are kept in C0733/137/44290, and bear the signature of the Director of PWD from 4 April 

67 Memorandum on the Bethlehem Road project for the High Commissioner's Residence, 24 August 1927, 
68 Ibid. 


69 C0733/137/44290. The total floor area was found to be 21,521 sq. ft (2,390 sq. m), more than any 
'Legation' buildings. The lavishness of the plan drew some ~ronic remarks at Plumer's expense from Colonial 
officials: note sheets, ibid. 
70 Keith-Roach, the Jerusalem District Commissioner, described in his diary how, in a private nightly 
ceremony, he tried to exorcise the place of ~ts evil connotations by reciting Blake'sJelerusalem ten times over: 
Derek Hopwood, Tales ofEmpire (London, 1989), pp. 124f. 
71 Dir. PWD, a summary on the history of the design, 1931: C0733/208/87339. Keith-Roach, however, 
claims to have discovered the site himself: Hopwood, op. cit. 
72 Report of the Siting Committee, C0733/137/44290. 
73 The sense of appropriation did not go unnoticed by non-British. See the description by the Hebrew 
author, Yehuda HaEzrahi (City, Stone and Skies, 1968, p. 255): 'We envied the British High Commissioner. 
The scoundrel! He appropriated the most-fantastic-place-on-earth and fenced it around, and planted a wood, 
and laid out terraced gardens as well, and built himself a palace. Every morning, when he wakes up from his 
sleep and opens his eyes, and sits, wearing red pyjamas and a striped morning gown in the colours of the Union 
Jack, to sip a lousy British tea and munch a stale British breakfast, he can see through the windows of his 
palace, from sunrise on, the most-sublime-and-holy-prospect-in-the-world as if it were his' (our translation). 
Also quoted in Kroyanker,Jerusalem Architecture 1918-1948, pp. 81f. 
74 E.g., Ottoman yalis, such as the Kopriilii Yali on the Bosphoros, or the pavilion in the Besht Behisht 
garden, Iran. 
75 Hussey, 'A Crusader Castle'. It has never been carried out, but plans survive, showing it to be a domed 
octagon (PWDJ). The gazebo is also seen on the photograph of a model (AH). 
76 Cf. J. Hoffmann, Maison Stoclet, 1905; F. L. Wright, Unity Temple, 1906; Lutyens, Midland Bank, 
Manchester. IQZQ.,


77 'The solid building stands out for all to see, the suggestion of fortification in its appearance being, perhaps, symbolic of the role which the logc of circumstances is forcing upon the Mandatory power' (Near East and India, 9 April I93 I). The affinity with Shoosmith's church is pointed out in Hussey, art. cit. 78 Perspective view of interior, House Ghasali, Aleppo, illustrated in Reuther, 'Die Qa'a', p. 212, a publication mentioned above (n. 38) in connexion with the four-iwan plan. 79 H. Taylor, 'Palestine's New Museum', New York Times, 10August 1936 (newspaper cutting: AH). 80 As at this period stone-cutting was mostly an Arab profession, while reinforced concrete demanded Jewish expertise, combining the tcvo techniques had also political overtones. For the front page of an article on the Residence in The Architectural Review (October 1931) Harrison supplied a photograph of two workers on the building site, an Arab mason and a Jewish worker. The title read, 'Jew [and] Arab [build] the new Government House'. 81 The hard limestone, called locally 'Mizi Hilu', was excavated from a quarry near Bethlehem specially opened for the project. The workers on the site dubbed it 'Mizi Harrison' (A. Amstein, 'Palestine Building Stones', Palestine and Middle East Economic Magazine, 1933 (nos 7-8), pp. 297E). The originally white stone has mellowed with the years and has now acquired a creamy hue. 82 Hussey, art. cit. 83 High Commissioner to Chief Secretary, 16 June 1929: ISA 13/3/3(1), box 4127. 84 Harrison to Pudsey, Dir. PWD, 20 June 1929: ISA 13/3/3(1), box 4127. 85 Harrison did not regard himself as an Arts-&-Crafts man. This is implied by his report of Ashbee's reaction to the house on his visit to Jerusalem in 1935. 'C. R. Ashbee who was a kind of adviser to Ronald Storrs on civic matters and who, when he was here had little use of me at Abu-Tor and raved on about what I had been able to accomplish since he left Palestine' (Harrison, 7 October 1935, retyped DP). 'I have had a letter from

C. R. Ashbee saying that he wanted to put me up for membership of the Art Workers' Guild. Lutyens, he 
says, would propose me. But I am not sure I wouldn't feel out of place in this circle. Its only attraction for me 
is that it was founded by William Morris, who, you may not have forgotten, was a hero of my youth' 
(Harrison to his mother, 3 September 1935: ibid.). 
86 Harrison, memorandum January or February I93 I: C0733/200/87087. 
87 Hundreds of drawings, kept in rolls, uncatalogued, PWDJ. 
88 Crawford, C. R. Ashbee, p. 181. Harrison used such tiles in the Museum. So did Clifford Holliday, in St 
Andrew's church, the StJohn hospital and the British & Foreign Bible Society house. 

89 On the British Empire Exhibition see British Empire Exhibition 1924, Ojicial Guide; British Empire Exhibition 1925, Ojicial Guide; 'A Festival of Empire: Pages from the History of a Great Imperial Undertalung', The Times, 23 April 1924, Special Section; The Wembley History Society, The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley1924 (London, 1974); John Alwood, The Great Exhibitions (New York, 1977), John M. McKenzie, Propaganda

and Empire (Manchester, 1984), pp. 107-13; Denis Judd, Empire-the British Imperial Experiencefrom 1765 to the 
Present (London, 1997), pp. 273-86. 
90 'B.E.Ex, the Question of Palestine's Participation', FO to Samuel, 15 June 1920: PRO FO371/5263, 
E6654/6654/44; Samuel to Churchill, CO, 21 November 1921, CO733/7/60779. 
91 High Commissioner to Churchill, CO, 27 July 1922, CO733/23/39383. 
92 Zeynep Celik, Displaying the Orient: Architecture ofIslam at Nineteenth-Century World Fairs (Berkeley, 1992). 
93 The Palestine Pavilion Handbook and Tourist Guide (1924)) plan; 'Palestine Pavilion, British Empire 
Exhibition, Wembley', The Architect (7 August I~ZS), 

96: photograph of interior. 94 Ibid. 95 The Palestine Pavilion Handbook, p. 88. 96 Ibid., p. 12. 97 Ibid., p. 94. 98 High Commissioner to Churchill, 27 July 1922: see n. 91 above. 99 Report of the Palestine Pavilion Organizing Committee's third meeting, 17 April 1923: quotation from Hassan Sadki Dajani's letter, CZA S25/ 1098 I.IOO For official correspondence on the Museum, see chiefly the C0733 series 96/38601, 142/44581, 146/ 57053, 240/17380, 306/75410; IAA ATQzoz; drawings until recently in PWDJ, now apparently in the Rockefeller Museum. For published material, see chiefly 'The Palestine Archaeologcal Museum, Jerusalem', Architectural Review, LXXVII, 466 (September 1935); 'The Palestine Archaeologcal Museum, Jerusalem', The Architect and Building News (6 September 1935), pp 263-82; 'The Palestine Archaeologcal Museum, Jerusalem', American Architect G Architecture (October 1936), pp. 54-62; John Henry Iliffe, 'The Palestine Archaeologcal Museum', LMuseums Journal 38 (1938), pp. 1-22; Ayala Sussmann and Ronny Reich, 'The History of the Rockefeller Museum', in Eli Schiller (ed.), Zeev Vilnai Book, 2 vols (Jerusalem, 1987), vol. 2, pp. 83-91 (in Hebrew). IOI Account of the early days of the museum in Sussman and Reich, art. cit. 102 CZA. See discussion and references in Hyman, Thesis. 103 Sussmann and Reich, art. cit., p. 83. 104 PWDJ. 105 Garstang to Chief Secretary, 17 July 1925: CO733/96/38601 106 Amery to Plumer, 17 September 1925: C0733/96/38601. 107 Plumer to Amery, 19 ~ebruary 1926: CO733/112/4960. 108 Charles Breasted, A Pioneer to the Past: the Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist (London, 1948),
369. 109 Breasted to Garstang, 9 January 1927: IAA ATQzoz. IIO CO733/142/44581. I I I The Palestine Gazette, 16 November 1927. 112 Iliffe, art. cit., p. 3. 113 Reported by Harrison to his mother, 3 February 1928: retyped DP. I 14 Plumer to Amery, 18 November 1927: C0733/142/44581. I 15 Harrison to his mother, 16 November 1927. I 16 T. A. L. Concannon (soon replaced by J. W. Price) and P. Mauger. The possibility of relying on capable Jewish architects resident in Palestine was not considered, an omission which met criticism from the Jewish press. I 17 See the description of the visit in Bertha Spafford Vester, OurJerusalem: an American Family in the Holy City, 1881-1949 (New York, 1950), pp. 307f. Rockefeller also visited Meggdo. Correspondence between Rockefeller and Chancellor concerning the visit is in Rhodes House Library, Oxford (MSS Brit. Emp. S 284). I 18 Harrison may have seen the plan of the mausoleum in Briggs, Muhammadan Architecture in Egypt and Palestine. The plan is illustrated in one of Harrison's own sketchbooks (DP).

I 19 Plans PWDJ. 
120 Photograph of the plan in AH. 


121 Two early ones are shown in glass-plate negatives at the Architectural Research Centre, The Technion, Haifa. The fine model of the final design stood until recently in the Museum vestibule. In 1999 it was found in a damaged state in the cloister. 122 Iliffe, art. cit, p. 3. On the qasr and tree see Ruth Kark and Sh. Landman, 'The Establishment of Muslim Neighbourhoods in Jerusalem outside the Old City during the late Ottoman Period', Palestine Exploration Quarterly, I 12/113 (London, 1980/81), pp. I 13-35. 123 After 1948 the Board was replaced by an international committee which operated until 1966 when the Museum was nationalized by the Jordanian authorities. 124 'One very attractive feature of the building, not yet fully executed and therefore unknown to the public, is the map-room which is in the top story of the tower. The intention is for a large-scale map ofJerusalem to be placed correctly in position on a horizontal board, to document the magnificent view of the whole city whjch is obtainable from the embrasures set at intervals all around the walls ;f the tower. This will provide an unparalleled opportunity for studying Jerusalem' ('A Builder of Jerusalem, Austen Harrison', unidentified newspaper cutting, probably 193 8 (AH) ). 125 21January 1928: IAA ATQzoz. 126 28 January 1928: ibid. 127 Harrison to his mother, 3 February 1928, retyped DP. 128 Cf. fountain pavilions at the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra, at the Qarawiyin Mosque, Fez and La Zisa, Palenno. The oldest domestic precedent for a water stream emerging from an iwan is found perhaps in the houses of Fatimid Fustat. Harrison was no doubt aware of their excavation, published in 1921. 129 For views see Kendall, Jerusalem City Plan, photographs 110-14. I 30 IAA ATQzoz. 13I Fragments of the fountain are scattered today in the yard behind the Museum. 132 On Gill's typography see Ronny Reich and Ayala Sussmann, 'A Hebrew Episode in the Typography of Eric Gill', in Sonderdruck aus Gutenberg-]ahrbuch (Mainz, 1992), pp. 305-08 Gill also designed an ex-libris for Harrison. I33 Letter to Anna Petrie, 17 December 1936, quoted in Margaret S. Drower, Flinders Petrie: a Lfe in Archaeology (London, 1985), p. 413. 134 See above, note 102. 135 See his dramatic description of the Battle of Qadesh, quoted in Charles Breasted, A Pioneer. 136 The idea of displaying Palestinian folklore in the Museum, which would have compromised its scientific impartiality, was rejected, although the idea of 'a Museum of National Life' had had British promoters at least since 1926. A small folklore museum did operate for a period in Jerusalem: see ISA BA/23/35; C0733/413/ 75916; John Henry Iliffe, 'A Folk Museum for Palestine', MuseumsJournal~6 (January 1937)~ pp 420-27. 137 A similar position is suggested by the use of a Buddhist stupa in the Viceroy's Palace in New Delhi: cf comment in Metcalf, Imperial Vision, p. 238. Cf. also the British approach to the spirit of the place in Cyprus (Given, 'Star of the Parthenon', p. 72). I 3 8 Hussey, 'A Crusader Castle'. 139 Harrison and Hubbard, Valletta, p. 105. I40 Harrison to Reiner, 4 August 1956, retyped DP. 141 Harrison to Reiner, 10March 1947, retyped DP. 142 On Mendelsohn's work in Palestine, see Ita Heinze-Miihleib, Erich Mendelsohn Bauten und Projekte in Palastina 1934-1941 (Munich, 1986). I43 Erich Mendelsohn, Palestine and the World of Tomorrow (pamphlet, Jerusalem, 1940). The full text is reproduced in Heinze-Miihleib, op. cit. 144 On the design of Ankara, see Lawrence J. Vale, Architecture, Power and National Identity (New Haven, 1992), pp. 97-104. Hussey ('Crusader Castle') notes the difference of approach between the Residence in

Jerusalem and Holzmeister's work in 'Angora'.

145 'Si les pays orientaux sont destinks 3 avoir, dans l'avenir, des architectures nationales, ils devront

probablement prendre la route qu'a choisie Kemal Ataturk -en finir avec le pass&, et recommencer en

adaptant l'architecture moderne aux besoins du pays' ( Ratner, quoted in 'Rapport, rkunion

internationale d'architecture', Architecture d'aujourd'hui, no. 2 (November r935), pp. 16-18).

  • Recommend Us