ECOWEEK 2017 in Israel: Placemaking Workshops on Sustainable Design in Public Space

 ECOWEEK 2017 took place for the fifth time in Israel addressing real issues in real sites from a sustainability angle. ECOWEEK took place on September 10-15, 2017 and the opening session took place at the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT).

Dr. Elias Messinas, Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Design at HIT and Founding Chairman of ECOWEEK:

"This is a week of exceptional experience for students, were architects, landscape architects, designers and engineers, representatives of organizations and social and environmental organizations come together every year for practical co-design workshops focusing on social and environmental sustainability. This week offers a rare and intense experience of lectures, screenings, tours and workshops, with experts from Israel and abroad. We were happy to host our colleagues from Norway, Germany and Belgium and students from Germany and the Netherlands. "

"The goal for the week – like every other ECOWEEK around the world - is to create new and concrete ideas for real projects, where students get a feel of the real world and how their creative ideas can impact real communities. Our goal is to find projects with potential for further development and implementation, so it was important for us to develop co-operations with institutions and local authorities and to focus on projects that were high in priority in their planning agenda."

Architect Bracha Kunda, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Design at HIT and co-organizer of ECOWEEK in Israel:

"This week focused on multi-disciplinary design, architectural planning, on-the-ground work and placemaking, in order to promote awareness on social and environmental sustainability and to promote the development of ecological solutions for communities and neighborhoods. This was made possible thanks to the collaboration with HIT and the students of "Sustainable Design in the Urban Space", the Model House of the Jerusalem Municipality, Tel Aviv Municipality, Yaffo Council, Dizengoff Center, the Enosh Center in Givatayim, the Norwegian Embassy, and other partners.

The workshops held during the week included:

W1: Intervention in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv

Workshop leaders: Tzameret Harel-Kanot (lecturer at the Design Faculty at HIT) and architect Rivka Sternberg. Consultant: Arch. Bracha Kunda.

The workshop developed interventions to convey messages and create experiences within the shopping mall, using diverse media, in order to stimulate dialogue and public involvement – including promoting produce of urban agriculture on the roof of the mall – involving shoppers in alternative activity of sustainable and fair trade in the public realm.

W2: Green roofs in Jerusalem

Workshop leaders: Architect Joe Ruff (Germany), architect Hanna Gribetz, architect Yonatan Alon and landscape architect Ishai Hanun.

Consultant: Arch. Elias Messinas.

The workshop was linked to the "Sacred" Festival, and to the community activity that has been developing in recent years on the roof of the Clal Building in downtown Jerusalem. The students focused on creating a green roof on the adjacent Avraham's hostel roof, setting the infrastructure for urban agriculture and volunteer activity in the center of the city. The workshop was hosted at the Model House of the Jerusalem Municipality.

W3: Design and interventions at the Enosh Center, Givatayim

Workshop leaders: Architect Bracha Kunda, landscape architect Galia Hanoch-Roe - Director of the Tel Aviv Communities of the Society for the Protection of Nature, and Yifat Keidar Coordinator of Community Gardens.

Consultant: Arch. Elias Messinas.

This workshop dealt with architectural design and hands-on interventions for the Enosh Center for employment for people suffering from mental illness in Givatayim, aiming to create the infrastructure for the center to become a sustainability center serving the local community, open to the public and operated jointly. The workshop included planning, design and landscape solutions, in cooperation with the Enosh staff, complimenting the work completed during a similar workshop held in April for the accredited course at HIT "Sustainable Design in the Urban Space" led by Kunda, with the assistance of Hanoch-Roe and Messinas. The workshop included visits and work in situ, and presented products that ranged from interior design to the design of elements and objects to be produced by the Enosh community after the workshop.

W4: Placemaking in Shapira neighborhood, South Tel Aviv

Workshop leaders: Architect Alise Plavina of PirII (Norway) and architect Ohad Yehieli Lecturer at Tel Aviv University.

Consultant: Arch. Elias Messinas.

The workshop was part of a larger project to renew Mesilat Yesharim Street in the heart of Shapira neighborhood, undertaken by the Tel Aviv Municipality, for the benefit of the neighborhood communities. The street went a renewal process in the past, including bicycle routes and new lighting, but has since deteriorated. The street serves mixed communities of immigrants and veterans and small businesses, who are partners in the design process, both in the larger project, and the workshop. As the long-term renewal planning process began at the same time as the workshop, it enabled the students to focus on initial proposals that could be integrated into the overall project. The workshop, which was hosted at the Tel Aviv ‘Platform’ hub, included visits to the site and meetings with experts and representatives of the local community and the municipality.

W5: Par(king) Day - International Par(king) Day

The workshop was held in cooperation with ‘Merhav’ and ‘Magma Yeruka’ initiators of the Park(ing) Day held throughout Israel on September 15, 2017.

Workshop leaders: Architect Guy Steenput (Belgium) and Visual Communication Designer Roni Miro Lecturer at HIT Design Faculty.

Consultants: Arch. Bracha Kunda and Arch. Elias Messinas.

ECOWEEK collaborated with ‘Merhav’ and ‘Megama Yeruka’ for an annual event that takes place simultaneously around the world, with artists, designers and citizens turning parking spaces into a temporary public space to increase awareness for urban sustainability in the context of transportation and public space. The event helps promote critical dialogue around the use of urban public space and environmental and social justice. By turning parking spaces into public spaces for all residents of the city (even those without a car), the students learned about the significance of redesigning urban space as public domain, and thus an asset for the local community. The workshop enabled thinking outside the box and applied practical ideas based on ‘tensegrity’ in a designated parking spot in the city center of Herzlyia. The workshop was held in cooperation with ‘Merhav’ and ‘Magma Yeruka’, and was coordinated with the international Park(ing) Day events on September 15, 2017.

W6: Placemaking and Renewal in Jaffa

Workshop leaders: Architect Elias Messinas and Reut Pupkin - Community worker in the "Better Together" project in Jaffa.

Consultant: Arch. Bracha Kunda.

The workshop was organized in cooperation with the local authority of Jaffa, the ‘Mutav Yahdav’ program, the local community, and local businesses. The work of the workshop involved the design of small scale but meaningful interventions in the neighborhood, focusing on the path that connects between neighborhoods Jaffa G and Neve Golan. The workshop included ideas and strategies for creating visibility and content that would contribute to the prosperity and pride of the local communities, connecting residents to the place. The team activated elementary school students and youth, and worked with them in-situ, supported by local business owners and residents. The workshop included site visits and work on the site, work with students and youth, and meetings with residents, local activists and community workers.

For more details on the ECOWEEK 2017 in Israel: