Architects Give Israel's Waterfronts Fresh Appeal

The Tel Aviv Port public space. Image: Mayslits Kassif Architects.

On Saturday mornings, I've gotten into the habit of going for a run by the Marmara Sea. The concrete path is worn, and follows a busy road, but the broad view out over the churning sea to the Asian side of the city is still rejuvenating. On the jagged rocks between the path and the water, amateur fishermen set up little camps, coolers and grills at the ready to enjoy the catch of the day, while young couples hold hands and gaze out at the sea. There's something I like about how we're all making the best of a fairly austere urban landscape, but seeing what Tel Aviv has done with part of its waterfront makes me long for a similar focus on public space in Istanbul.With its mix of broad wooden planks - some undulating into little dune-like hills - attractively arranged bricks, and concrete painted with bright patterns, all speckled with rock-shaped seating areas, Mayslits Kassif Architects' redesign of the Tel Aviv Port entices runners, bikers, and strollers alike. The long-abandoned and neglected dock area has been turned into a "prominent, vivacious urban landmark," designboom writes in a piece on the project, which won the Rosa Barba European Landscape Prize earlier this month at a landscape architecture biennial in Barcelona:

The port's public spaces regeneration project is considered one of the most influential public spaces projects in Tel Aviv. Being a new urban landmark which revives the city's waterfront, the project became a trigger for a series of public space projects along Tel Aviv's shoreline which altogether revolutionize the city's connection to its waterfront.


Waterfront project in Bat Yam, Israel. Image: Yuval Tebol / Derman Verbakel Architecture.

Though I love the design, I agree with some commenters who suggested adding plants and some shelter from the sun, the latter something Derman Verbakel Architecture incorporated in its design for a waterfront area in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv. The project, design blog Dezeen writes, "comprises a series of fixed arches around which canopies and clusters of benches and tables on wheels can be arranged to facilitate social gatherings." The blog also quotes the architects' own statement on the project, which it says "transforms the space that lies between the city and the sea to a place of its own rather than an in-between passage":

A series of fixed frames containing movable elements creates a basic infrastructure in which users have the freedom to alter the urban space and fit it to their own private uses.... a flexible structure with movable benches and tables turning around an axis [allows] for different seating arrangements and shaded 'urban rooms' that can be used for birthday parties or other social events.... Together, the elements create a micro-climate where people can meet, play, eat, talk or just hang out, thereby producing a platform for a wide range of possible interactions.

I suspect the people picnicking on Istanbul's rocks and roadsides would fill similar spaces with lively interactions in a heartbeat. I know I'd make good use of them.

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Tags: Architects | Architecture | Cities | Israel | Tel Aviv | Turkey | Urban Life | Urban Planning

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