The Central Precinct of Israel

Israel

2008

"Democracy, Culture, Knowledge, Leisure"

The highest prize in an open national planning and urban design competition.

In 2008 the municipality of Jerusalem initiated a public planning and design competition for the most central precinct In Israel: A total area of 360 hectares (3,600 dunams ) - this precinct Includes the Knesset , the Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book, the Hebrew university, the Government Center as well as 5 major parks.

To the north this precinct connects to Jerusalem CBD, Jaffa Street, the Central Railway Station and Central Bus Station. To the east, west and south the precinct borders with 10 residential neighborhoods (with population of more than 60,000 residents) and with the major Sport Center of Jerusalem.

The precinct is surrounded by the main traffic arteries of Jerusalem that actually disconnect it from the city due to the heavy traffic.  At present this huge territory is not conceived as united urban entity. 

This plan has several objectives:

1. The Centrality of the Precinct within Metropolitan Jerusalem - It connects the major entrances to the city and the 4 major regional parks (on 4 directions) - that are now disconnected. The Old City Park, the Refaim Valley, the Herzl Mountain and the Ha'arazim Valley.

2. Within the Precinct there are 5 parks, gardens and natural open spaces - The plan proposes to connect all these 5 separated urban entities into one continuous urban park.

This park will supply "Green Connections" between all components of the precinct - for residents, visitors and employees (there are over 30,000 employees in the Precinct).

3. The Ruppin diagonal - The urban grid of precinct is based on the orthogonal directions (north - south and east-west). Ruppin Boulevard is the only major axis which is diagonal.This orientation establishes unique situation in central Jerusalem. It connects all orientations (north, east, south and west) with the most important national and urban functions. By doing so, Ruppin Boulevard establishes itself as the most important public boulevard in the city (and in the country).

4. National institutions along Ruppin. At present there are no "addresses" on Ruppin. It functions as a drive-through road. In our analysis of the site we identified more than 30 major institutions that are situated in the proximity to Ruppin but at present are disconnected from this boulevard. The plan proposes to direct all front facades of major institution towards Ruppin Boulevard. Since the competition ended - 3 major institutions have already adopted this concept and have positioned their main entrance on Ruppin Blvd. The National Library, the Government Center and the Nature Museum.

5." Green Bridges" The 10 neighborhoods that are situated around the precinct are at present, practically, disconnected from the precinct by heavy traffic arteries. Crossing from residential blocks to the "Central Park" is a dangerous endeavor. The plan proposes several "Green Bridges" and few on-grade pedestrian friendly crossings. This is much more than traffic improvement. This is "a change in mind-set". The residents will become connected to the university, museums, parliament, government, center, library and parks. The implementation of such a vision will take several years. This is a long, natural process. However the direction is important. The stage by stage realization and the dynamics of change are crucial. This is a national and urban transformation, from disconnection and governmental alienation - to democratic and civil integration between the citizen and public domain.

6. The "Citizen - Institutions" relationship. The development of the Central Precinct of Jerusalem will create a "new bond" between the most important institutions of the country and the citizens. The institutions of "Democracy, Culture, Knowledge and Leisure" will have synergic relationship with the nearby residents and in a metaphoric way with the citizens of the entire country.