All 8,500 evacuees of Gaza settlements can be housed in a single, compact site with the same amount of living space as planned in a variety of separate locations around the country if the community is arranged in the geometrical form of a five-pointed pentad. So says Wolf Pearlman, an urban designer and architect who was, before he retired, a professor in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's architecture department.
Pearlman told The Jerusalem Post that all the former Gaza settlers could live comfortably on a 250-dunam tract, thus saving land that is currently and wastefully planned for development to house them. Such a "pentad city," he said, would not only save space but also provide the togetherness the evacuees have been demanding.
"My concept was born of extensive housing/planning experience [both academically and professionally in the UK and in Israel]," he said. "The non-convex perimeter and interior linear structure contribute to a substantial increase of housing and population densities."
At the same time, infrastructure costs are minimized while land resources are preserved. Pearlman added that he hoped this alternative approach to urban planning would be considered by the planning and building authorities before permanent communities are constructed at Nitzanim near Ashkelon, in the Negev or elsewhere.
"The short distances inherent in the pentagonal arrangement are the imperative for control of unnecessary vehicle usage for everyday activities," such as driving between home and work, to entertainment places and shopping centers. He added that the pentad which looks like a snowflake but has five, rather than six, spines could also be a model for building homes for evacuees of New Orleans and for underdeveloped parts of the Third World.
The temporary caravan-villa town in Nitzanim, he said, was laid down in a grid-like pattern that is very wasteful in terms of land. The pentad is a natural microscopic form of matter in nature, with pentagonally arranged clusters of atoms that fit together to form perfect quasi-crystal. The structure resolves the "historic contest between orthogonal and hexagonal [circular] forms of settlement organization," he said.
A spacious, pentad-shaped town, said Pearlman, could be built on 25 hectares of land, with 2,000 medium-rise dwellings for 10,000 inhabitants, room for infrastructure and gardens, and a maximum axial distance from center of only 330 meters.