Gerard Heumann

Givat-Ram’s ‘Shikunei HaElef’ is masquerading as a village


The 56 prefabricated caravan-like buildings built after the Six Day War in the late ’60s to house incoming students at the southern end of Hebrew University’s Givat-Ram Campus were intended to be temporary, not permanent. Severely run down, they stopped functioning in 2000.

Fourteen years on the Jerusalem Development Authority decided to renovate them, renting them out as offices to small hi-tech start-ups תcleverly renaming the area “Hi-Tech Village”. There is of course no village here. “Villages” are situated in rural areas, their buildings clustered around a center.

Short-cuts such as this are never the way to go. It’s high time this extremely large and valuable site, some 3.5-4.0 hectares in area, be given far more serious and long-range consideration, fully exploiting it’s potential.

Proposed is that the site be designed as a mixed use complex with hi-tech offices all along its entry road, student dormitories stepping down the hillside, well-related to the existing dormitories to its north, Pedestrian ways would sensitively connect the two areas.
New roads won’t be necessary as merely widening the existing one and extending it onto the northeast plateau will do, on the plateau- a true center comprising a minimarket, cafes and parking and meeting spaces.. Next to it, a large shaded garden with excellent views of the Botanical Garden. From here a shuttle bus will transport residents to and from the light-rail stations soon to be constructed to the west.

The terraced dormitory buildings would have their short elevations facing the Givat Mordechai interchange, Bezeq Street and Begin Boulevard, thereby minimizing their exposure to noise and air pollution. Surrounding the site a green periphery, creating an appropriate termination to this important campus.

Gerard Heumann – Architect and Town Planner, prepared the Town Planning Scheme for Hebrew University’s Givat-Ram Campus which was approved in the ’90 s. At that time, this area’s functions were left undecided.

About the Author
Gerard Heumann is an architect and town planner in Jerusalem.
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