Places: Tsukei Aviv Park (IL)

Tel Aviv is an intriguing place.  An epicentre for creativity and innovation.  A fusion of cultures.  A liberal island in a country juggling tension on almost all of its boarders.  An urban cell staring squarely across the Mediterranean to Europe and the US.  A vibrant and restless city that literally was no more than dunes and camel tracks a century ago yet now is considered the 14th most expensive city in the world* with one of the most vibrant night lives to boot.  A rich industry spread throughout the city (while other modern cities have booted industry out).  There is really no other place quite like it.

Tsukei Aviv Park – a contested site

The city is remarkably short on housing and with an effective real-estate sector, it is moving quickly into every inhabitable undeveloped patch of land.  One of the most significant, attractive and most accessible plots is a 300 Ha beach side sand dune just north of the city’s second airport.  Some 13,000 houses have been planned for the site and it is said that once the permit is released, construction could be completed well within a decade.

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But the site is under tension. The land was formerly an army base and while savaged by vehicles, there are patches of healthy coastal healthland home to endangered wildlife with a strong support community.  The cliffs are said to contain unique geological qualities yet the soft rock structure is threatened through erosion by pedestrians.  Local residents have relatively little public recreation space and so have used the site informally at the mercy of environmental degradation. The beach front adjoining the cliffs is prohibited from anything but walking yet demand to access the foreshore will increase remarkably when it is developed.  There is also tension with future developers to ensure the water edge is attractive to increase their land value while conservationists want to bring back the wildlife.

Stakeholder oriented design

OSMOS’s Adrian Hill was invited by Tel Aviv based landscape architectural firm, Open Spaces*, to participate in a competition for the future design of the space.  Considering how the we considered it to be a highly contested site, we took a user centred design approach by exploring the values of the main interest groups that occupy and will occupy the site.

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Over the course of five days, we started with abstract and emotional concepts for the space and eventually moved further into more specific actions.  Spatial designers (architects, urban designers and even engineers) rarely operate in this user-centred way as design methods tend to move directly to spatial design and only much later consider the impact on users.

The benefit of focusing on users is that unnecessary functions are not created unless there is a ‘pull’ from a certain user group. Only after we had sketched out a landscape of values and interests, and only once we had properly defined objectives and other conditions required on the site, did we move into sketching out physical design.

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In line with the Transversal Planning approach, we framed the project in terms of five themes: the eco-systems services (habitat, water management and erosion), accessibility (motorised and slow), the landscape experience (views, sense of the landscape and wayfinding) the functions (such as shops, cafés and playgrounds) and sustainability (the systemic approach).  This step allowed the designers to ‘wear a hat’ representing the requirements of the project rather than trying to solve all the problems simultaneously.  It meant that we could work quickly within the group and adapt concepts, refining each of the topics.

Once we had a better concept of the masterplan, we quickly moved to the final presentation material and prototyped what should be included in the final schemes.  The outcome borrowed from Agile’s Scrum methodology where we noted necessary tasks and began splitting them up into manageable steps.

The proposal will be handed in on the 22 of May.  TBC.