Jerusalem’s New City: the Embodiment of Garden City Principles in Neighborhood Development and its Impact on Segregation II

Richard Kaufmann could be said as the person who brought the idea of Garden Neighborhoods into Jerusalem’s new residential districts’ design. The German-Jewish architect was greatly influenced by Ebeneezer Howard’s Garden City ideas during his study in Munich, and in turn influenced the modern living neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Due to limited space in the old city of Jerusalem and growing population, there had been pressure on the living density and quality in the old living quarters. With the expanded city thanks to the city planning by the British, Richard Kaufmann brought in the concept of Garden City in forming the new Jewish living neighborhoods of the new city of Jerusalem. The use of the symmetrical road grid, as can be seen in the plan below, is a signature of Kaufmann’s Garden neighborhoods, facilitating access to provide higher level of service to the individual households.

Richard Kaufmann's symmetrical road grid concept for Rehavia A neighborhood.
Richard Kaufmann’s symmetrical road grid concept for Rehavia A neighborhood.

In these new Jewish neighborhood, houses features their own surrounding gardens, served by individual access from the roads in the neighbourhood that are lined with tress on the sides. Open public spaces were zoned for a more open landscape, with institutions such as schools, and some shops erected in the district. These neighborhoods thus provide a modern, quiet, low-density way of living that is new to Jerusalem.

Talpiot, a residential neighborhood designed by Richard Kaufmann.
Talpiot, a residential neighborhood designed by Richard Kaufmann.

 

The Plan of the Neighborhood of Talpiot designed by Richard Kaufmann, 1921.
The Plan of the Neighborhood of Talpiot designed by Richard Kaufmann, 1921.

These ideas of Garden City translated to other neighborhoods that are not designed for the Jews and not considered as garden suburbs. However, the more importnat implication of this trend is the significant improvement in the quality of life of the people in Jerusalem. Other neighbourhoods, especially the Arabian ones, took inspiration and ideas from Richard Kaufmann’s initiatives, that greatly improved on the originally even-worse living quality of the Arabs, whose living habits have remained more traditional than the Jews. In the example below, the mixed Christians – Arabs neighborhood of Talbiya took the principles of the Garden suburbs that rendered itself a self-contained neighborhood. The grid of housing is surrounded by a park system, while institutions of services and religions were plotted around the neighborhood.

The neighborhood of Talbiya for Christians and Arabs, 1947.
The neighborhood of Talbiya for Christians and Arabs, 1947.

The importance of the ideas of Garden City and its suburbs in Jerusalem lies not only superficially on its wide-spread influence on modern neighborhoods design of different races of people, but also on shaping the intra-religion and inter-religions social relationships that are the roots of segragation and conflicts that plagued Jerusalem ever since. The previous narrative on Jerusalem’s new city demonstrates the geographical segregation that is a result of the Garden City approach to urban development. Here, by looking into the functional composition of neighborhoods in Jerusalem, we can see how such principles encouraged the development of self-contained neighborhoods that create social segregation between neighborhoods. The Garden City principles on urban design created both geographical barriers and programmatic seclusion that discourages interactions between the different people. It is worth to note that, prior to British arrival and development of the new city, people of all 3 religions lived, albeit not warm-heartedly, harmoniously inside the walls of the old city. The circulation of people inside the old city, from daily commutes to religious pilgrimages, often criss-cross each other and trespass into other’s zones. The urban and spatial reality forced the different people to compromise and establish a status-quo that allowed all parties to continue on their routine. The arrival of the new city in the form of the Garden City completely transformed this delicate yet fragile relationship that had been established for decades.

 

Reference:

KARK, R. and OREN-NORDHEIM, M. (2001) Jerusalem and its Environs – Quarters, Neighborhoods, Villages 1800-1948. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press.

KROYANKER, D. (1994) Jerusalem Architecture. London: Tauris Parke Books.

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