Design students re-imagine Beersheba's Old City

Design graduate Noa Liber dreams of reviving the land plot with a green energy complex – powered by bicycles.

July 30, 2012 02:37
2 minute read.
Noa Liber's project

Noa Liber's project 370 (R). (photo credit: Noa Liber / Shenkar College)


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Ousting an unappealing parking lot in the middle of Beersheba’s Old City, design graduate Noa Liber dreams of reviving the land plot with a green energy complex – powered by bicycles.

The new “green parking lot” would be covered by a sculpted metal pergola, which when powered by stationary bike pedals, would provide cool air and shade for loungers below. After a certain amount of pedaling, those at work would be free to take the bikes around the city for a ride.

“I looked to create interaction between people in Beersheba,” Liber told The Jerusalem Post. “I want to create gathering and interaction because today there are no places where people can sit and come and enjoy the city.”

Liber’s idea was part of a series of projects that recent graduates of Ramat Gan’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design exhibited, in which they planned various schemes for an innovative future of Beersheba’s Old City. In their final year of Shenkar’s Interior- Building and Environmental Design program, the students used the Old City as a laboratory for developing “urban rooms” and renewing the city itself, under the guidance of Prof. Shraga Kirshner, according to the college.

If Liber was going to eliminate an entire parking lot, she felt that she had “to give something in return.”

A bike rental facility, which would take physical work as payment rather than cash, was the perfect new parking lot, she imagined.

“I thought that this could be good for everybody,” for both the loungers under the pergola as well as those who come to rent the bikes, she said.

While she and the other students do not yet know if the city intends to adopt any of their ideas, Liber said that one municipality representative attended their exhibition.

Some of the other projects include a “hidden city” of gardens created by Vera Watts, in which a city of concealed gardens would be located among select buildings around the Old City. The entrance to the gardens would be hidden and narrow, intended to surprise guests and “to reveal large and impressive space that functions as a small Garden of Eden within an urban hub,” according to the college.

Meanwhile, Ester Benyaminovich planned a renewal of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s Old City pedestrian mall in a project called Activity Adaptive Street, which would include a plastic ceiling cover high above the pedestrians that would create a comfortable microclimate system.

Another student, Marina Veretihin, designed a birdseye lookout for observing Beersheba’s urban landscape, which would be located on a cliff at the edge of town that provides a panoramic view, accompanied by a sound experience generated by wind pipes.

Providing a place for community gatherings, student Hila Gabay designed a seating area that would have the space to host street performances and large events, but would also have the capability of transforming into modular communal seating on days when no attractions are occurring.

Linking various building stories and roofs together, student Rachel Miriami designed a new walking trail that would wrap around the Old City at changing heights.

By providing these ideas for such an ancient part of their city, the students aimed to uniquely redesign Beersheba’s Old City quarters and “breathe life into it,” according to the college.

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