American architect and urban designer Frank Lloyd Wright once likened cities to
cancerous growths, saying, “To look at the cross-section of any plan of a big
city is to look at something like the section of a fibrous tumor.”
tumors, cities must constantly grow if they want to flourish.
residents may not like the comparison, but as the city looks to the future, it
does look like it is about to undergo something similar to a cell’s mitosis. As
the city and its residents wrap up the centennial year celebrations, the Tel
Aviv Municipality is about to submit for approval its most ambitious plan in
recent decades. If approved, the last remaining undeveloped area within the city
limits will be transformed from near-empty sand dunes to a 21st-century copy of
Tel Aviv’s urban core.
Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest city and the
heart of the country’s only real metropolis. In recent years, the city has been
undergoing widespread renewal and gentrification, but since the middle of the
previous century there has been little in the way of lateral
Since roughly the 1980s, the only growth Tel Aviv has
experienced has been upward, in the form of residential high-rises and office
towers. That’s all about to change. In the beginning of August, the city’s
Engineering Administration Department will submit its urban master plan – Tama
3700 – to the Regional Planning and Construction Committee for
The plan, the result of ten years of extensive work, seeks to
capture the successful elements of the inner city and duplicate them in a new,
3000-dunam (740- acre) neighborhood to the north of the Reading Power
“Fifteen years ago, the city had a plan in place for the northward
expansion of the city along the coast, but it never made it to fruition. Then,
ten years ago, the plan was dropped and we began working on Tama 3700,” said
architect Francine Davidi from the city’s Northern Planning
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“THE ORIGINAL idea was the brainchild of then-city engineer
Dani Kaizer and was adopted wholeheartedly by current city engineer Hezi
Berkovitch. Instead of designing a new suburban neighborhood like Ramat Aviv or
Yad Eliyahu, places that are referred to as ‘bedroom communities,’ we wanted the
new northern neighborhood to be a geographical and cultural extension of the
Davidi explained that the planned neighborhood was one of
three northern neighborhoods envisioned.
The other two are waiting for
the evacuation of the power plant and the Sde Dov regional airport before the
start of advanced planning.
The design of the new neighborhood was put in
the hands of architect Ofer Kolker of Kolker, Kolker and Epstein, a mid-sized
architectural firm working out of Jerusalem.
Kolker, who helped design
some of the capital’s most architecturally advanced buildings, including the new
award-winning Foreign Ministry building and the yet-to-be-built,
state-of-the-art Cinema City megaplex, has put in thousands of work hours on the
plan and hopes to see it come to fruition some time in the next ten
So far the plan has gone through three major rounds of
development. The first was initial planning and design, where the existing
situation was analyzed and the rough concepts adopted. The second stage was
creating the planning vision, choosing guiding principles and examining various
proposals. The third stage was passing the plan through the Local Planning
Committee and various national sub-committees, in preparation for submitting the
complete plan to the approval of the District Committee.
“I have few
complaints about the planning process.
True, it took nearly five years to
pass it through the various committees, but I think that. with the support of
the city, we did well. The plan we are presenting next month is nearly the same
as the original plan we began working on ten years ago. Some particular ideas
fell to the sidelines, but overall the concept has been retained,” said
“The expansion of the city northward will enable the addition of
100,000 new housing units to Tel Aviv and help strengthen its role as the
nation’s central hub of business, entertainment and leisure,” said Kolker. “The
northern expansion will create an uninterrupted coastal throughway stretching
from Bat Yam in the south to Herzliya to the north.
“A successful city
must provide a good mixture of residential areas, employment opportunities,
entertainment, commerce and leisure. Our goal was to create an environment that
will enable a high quality of living within a sustainable setting,” said
Kolker explained that the biggest asset to the plan is the
“The beach is Tel Aviv’s trademark and its single biggest
drawing point. We have done everything to make the beach the heart of the plan
and, as much as possible, to maintain it in its natural state. National planning
ordinances determine that there be no construction within set distances from the
“In our plan we have kept a minimum distance of 100-140 meters
between the beach and the closest buildings. This allows us to take advantage of
the beach’s pull and enable beachside living, but at the same time make sure
that the beach remains in public hands and accessible to everyone,” said
The backbone of the Tama 3700 plan is a grid of six boulevards
going from east to west, connected to three main north-south
Of the three north-south roads, one is the already existing
and much-traveled Derech Namir; the others are planned extensions of two of Tel
Aviv’s most central and familiar streets, Ibn Gvirol and Hayarkon.
Gvirol will be the major urban road and Hayarkon will be an access road for the
beaches and entertainment centers,” said Kolker.
In the south, the new
neighborhood will be bordered by Rehov Tsvi Propes, which extends eastward to
the neighborhoods of Ramat Aviv Gimel and Neot Afeka and connects to the Ayalon
Freeway. In the north, it will be bordered by Rehov Yunitzman, which links the
neighborhood to Highway 2 going north to Haifa and Highway 5, stretching east
and connecting it to the rest of the region.
“The neighborhood will be at
the meeting point of some of Israel’s major highways, making it easily
accessible for both residents and visitors,” said Kolker.
boulevard of the planned neighborhood will be a new road, which already carries
the name “Derech Hanofesh” (Vacation Way).
“What’s special about Derech
Hanofesh is that it will be flanked by an 80-meter-wide green zone,” said
Kolker. “What we have planned for this street is Israel’s first linear park. The
road connects to parklands east of the city, providing cyclists and pedestrians
with a convenient exit from the city directly into the surrounding parks in
Glilot and Hakfar Hayarok.
We plan to have bridges stretching over Ibn
Gvirol and Namir streets, providing park-goers with uninterrupted routes all
along the way.”
A major feature of the plan is a large park located on
the cliffs overlooking the sea. At the moment the cliffs are barren, but
according to the plan they will undergo massive development, turning them into
an easily accessible recreation destination.
The Cliffs Park will combine
with the coastal park that stretches across the shoreline and include
underground parking, various amenities and a boardwalk, with steps leading down
from the cliffs to the beach beneath them. As part of the early planning
process, the city has committed to maintaining the existing eco-systems that the
cliffs provide intact, while developing the areas around them.
the three main east-west boulevards there will be three additional smaller
boulevards completing the neighborhood’s main traffic ways.
residents and everybody who comes to the city love the old boulevards that
criss-cross the city. Just like people come to places like Rothschild Boulevard
or Ben-Gurion Boulevard today, to hang out and see and be seen, they will come
to the boulevards in the new neighborhood because of the leisure and
entertainment opportunities they will offer. The grid pattern makes for easy
orientation and navigation for anybody who comes to the new part of the city,”
According to the plan, each of the six boulevards ends in
the west, in what Kolker calls “a balcony to the sea.”
“Today, the only
street in Tel Aviv that ends with an open vista to the beach is Rehov Frishman.
In our plan, people will be able to walk all the way across the neighborhood on
any of the boulevards and continue directly down to the beach.“ AN OPEN view to
the sea was also an important consideration in the height limitations for
buildings in the neighborhood. Kolker said he wanted to avoid a situation where
there would be “a wall of towers” on the coastline, blocking everyone’s view
like there is in other parts of Tel Aviv. Together with the municipality, he set
restrictions on the number of floors that buildings could
“Instead of the tall buildings being erected on the front line
facing the sea, in our plan the tall buildings will be erected on the east-west
boulevards, allowing an open view from all angles,” said
Consideration for others, however, is not the only thing limiting
the height of Tama 3700’s buildings.
The neighborhood’s proximity to Sde
Dov Airport also influenced how high people could build.
requirements imposed on us something I call a ’virtual sky,’” said Kolker. “The
takeoff and landing patterns of aircraft using the airport require safety
buffers that limit how tall the buildings can be.”
map shows clearly how the flight routes affect the building restrictions, with
buildings in the south substantially lower than those in the north.
the airport imposes limitations, it also provides for opportunity. According to
project manager Lior Dushnitsky, the proximity to the airport means that the
southern part of the neighborhood, near Rehov Propes, does not have the same
noise limitations as the rest of the neighborhoods.
“We used that in our
design. The southern tip of the area is zoned for a new urban entertainment
district that will allow late-night music,” Dushnitsky
Dushnitsky’s vision is that the new neighborhood will be full of
just such utilitarian thinking.
According to him, the grid of throughways
and boulevards represents not only easy orientation and convenient traffic
patterns that will increase the residents’ quality of life, but also a smart
network of commerce and industry that will make it worthwhile for business
owners to open up shop in the new neighborhood.
The plan calls for all
the buildings on the main boulevards to include space for commercial
The ground floor of each of the buildings facing the street
will be reserved for things like stores, offices and restaurants.
network should assure business owners and developers that they will able to make
good on their investments. In effect, we’re offering them assurances akin to
economic maturity,” said Dushnitsky. “By [our] designing the city in this way,
they can see for themselves the advantages they are likely to enjoy from
investing in the neighborhood.”
WHILE THE planners have no control over
who will erect the residential buildings in the new neighborhood – the buildings
will all be designed and constructed by private owners – they do have a say in
the general layout of the buildings and the way they will be connected along the
“This plan doesn’t go into the resolution of the individual
building, but the layout philosophy is one that we borrowed from Tel Aviv’s
past,” said Kolker.
When the neighborhood’s designers chose a model for
the residential layout of the new city section, they looked to emulate the
design of one of the city’s original planners, Sir Patrick Geddes.
Geddes Plan, as Tel Aviv’s first master plan was known, was designed in the late
1920s by the Scottish urban designer who was hired by the British Mandate ruling
at the time to plan the city’s early development.
Much of the structure
of Tel Aviv as we know it today is owed to the work of this innovative
architect, who also designed cities in India and elsewhere throughout the
Geddes’s aim was to design spaces that would enable the
development of small communities based on the notion of the city block, while
still maintaining a connection to the city as a whole.
An ideal city
block in Geddes’s plan would be a square made up of four multistory buildings
with one side facing the main street and the other facing a public space at the
center of the block. The public space would be used to house small gardens or
public buildings like schools, kindergartens, synagogues, sports and recreation
facilities or healthcare clinics.
This basic layout can still be seen in
parts of Tel Aviv today, even though many of the public-designated areas have
been turned into parking lots or commercial centers.
“The block structure
allows people to enjoy both easy and comfortable access to the vibrant city
outside and, at the same time, the quiet and privacy that the inner public
spaces provide,” said Kolker.
Another feature borrowed from Geddes is the
model of the garden city. Geddes himself took the idea from British architect
Sir Ebenezer Howard, who put the concept to work in the UK. It was later
emulated in Holland and the US. The basic idea of the Garden City was to combine
city life with the favorable features of life in the country, enabling residents
to enjoy things like green parks and open spaces while living in a metropolitan
“Tama 3700 is designed according to the same principles,” said
Kolker. “The plan leaves plenty of open space for parks, the central ones being
the Beach Park and the linear park along Derech Hanofesh – but with green areas
all along the other main boulevards, and also in the neighborhood’s abundant
public buildings and shared block gardens.”
GREEN LIVING was one of the
major elements included in the Tama 3700 plan, and it is apparent both in the
urban design and the requirements the municipality places on the future
“Throughout the entire process we worked in cooperation and
consultation with environmental organizations in order to make the plan as
eco-friendly as possible,” said Davidi.
One example that Davidi pointed
out was the use of solar energy for street lighting; another was the use of the
same streetlights to function as small receptors and transmitters of cellular
signals – replacing the need to install large cellular antennas throughout the
Another green element included in the design is the
possibility of installing a pneumatic garbage disposal network in which, like
the sewage system, all housing units would be connected to a central garbage
The plan also includes the option of an
environmentally friendly public transportation system to the neighborhood, in
the form of the Green Line of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan light rail system, which
is planned to be built along Ibn Gvirol Street. However Kolker, who also had a
hand in designing the yet to be constructed Red line, said he is not holding his
Dushnitzky expressed hope that the private investors who took
part in the construction of the new neighborhood would join the municipality in
its eco-friendly attitude and construct their buildings to be as sustainable as
“Green building is obviously more expensive, but we believe
that it is an expense that will return the investment.
The added value
that sustainable building offers will attract desirable residents who understand
the importance of green living. Offering those prospective customers the option
of living in a green building that is also part of a green neighborhood creates
a motivation for investors to continue the trend, promoted by the city,” said
ONE OF the main criticisms Tel Aviv suffers from today is the
lack of affordable housing. The prevalent argument is that housing costs in Tel
Aviv are so high that it has become impossible for young couples to buy a home
there. The plan’s designers, aware of the criticism, concede that the new
neighborhood will likely also see high purchase prices.
unit size is roughly 120 square meters. This is large by any account, and will
attract residents who are necessarily well off,” said Kolker.
we do not envision the neighborhood turning into a ‘ghost town,’ in which
apartments are purchased by wealthy foreign investors and lived in only while
they are in Israel on vacation. We fully anticipate all the units to be occupied
once they are built.”
n order to ward off criticism and comply with
national regulations, 25 percent of the units in the new neighborhood will be
kept aside for affordable housing.
According to Davidi, the city will
build 350 units designated for affordable housing. All the investors will be
required to set aside space for smaller apartments going to weaker populations.
Altogether, there should be roughly 2,000 affordable housing units under Tama
In order to draw in investors from the tourism sector, the new plan
also enables combined hotel and residential buildings. According to the plan,
hotel investors will enjoy the right to build roughly 30% of their buildings as
private apartment units, thus lowering their risk and allowing for easier
Once the plan is submitted to the Regional Planning and
Housing Committee, it will go through a period in which the public can submit
opposition to it. Kolker said that while the public had been invited to weigh in
on the planning already in its earlier stages, he was sure the plan would meet
with a fair share of resistance.
“What I anticipate is a tug of war
between the opposing interests – of environmentalists, on one side and
landowners on the other. While the former will call for reduced interference in
the natural equilibrium, the latter will try to push for even more development
and the easing of bureaucratic restrictions,” said Kolker.
designer, once the plan is submitted, I lose control over it and it moves into
the hands of the state authorities. I can only hope that the state maintains the
[proper] balance of interests, and that the plan will go forward and be built
without too much delay.”
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