International Charrette (public
participation planning process) for the Urban Renewal of the Old
The MIU -
Movement for Israeli Urbanism organized the charrette in Kiryat Shmona.
process engages in listening to the public on the first day, then
skills of a wide range of experts to generate alternative proposals,
through intensive public interaction, winnows down the proposals, and
through more public input arrives at a consensus approach.
This was the first
charrette of its kind in Israel.
been many failed attempts at revitalizing Kiryat Shmona's downtown
once lively and is now deteriorating and where decision after decision
things worse. This attempt was different in that the professionals
the people who live there and made an effort to create a stable
center for Kiryat Shmona.
and the professionals started with abstractions; there was no mandate
a specific problem. Both the specific problem to be addressed in the
as well as solutions had to be defined in one intensive five day
hundred people including residents, the mayor, deputy housing minister
charrette professional team, including three professionals from North America, gathered on the
first evening in Kiryat
Shmona to begin the five day charrette process that will hopefully help
determine a new direction for this city’s downtown. Most of
the people who
attended the first evening were regular people: shop owners, students,
makers & youth. When asked for their hopes and dreams for their
answers were pretty consistent. The people needed basics: Streets and
cleaned, night-time lighting, places for people to go both young and
active as well as passive recreation, and an orientation of the
towards the people that both live here as well as visit here. The work
first day was to generate many ideas very fast.
morning of the second day, the charrette team start sorting through all
ideas and came up with a range of approaches, social, economic,
design approaches to address the range of concerns and ideas expressed.
day was both exciting and challenging. The team divided into work
group was made up of multi-disciplinary professionals who had never met
other before this workshop. Each group started putting ideas down on
they got clearer and clearer.
evening close to a hundred people gathered again to review the
person was given the opportunity to comment on each of five concepts.
discussions were rich and even heated at times. Overall the spirit of
take, with the assistance of good facilitation, allowed for a rich
ideas and the ability to more clearly understand the
community’s point of view,
allowing for further sharpening of ideas on the third day.
morning of the third day, progress was made with regard to drawing
establishing programs and putting things into detail.
reviewing the ideas and remarks made by the community the evening
concepts were reduced to two alternatives and the team was divided into
work groups. Both alternatives had to incorporate the supporting
social and environmental plans.
concentrated on developing a plan that revitalized a network of north
alleys and parking lots at the back of buildings that could be
a connected system of pedestrian oriented public squares that runs the
of the Kiryat Shmona downtown. This series of spaces already connects
market at the north end of the central district to the civic center at
but it is very disconnected, underdeveloped and its promise as a
unrealized. This group also took on making an alternate plan for the
located in the center of the north south central city axis. The
to link this area to its immediate surroundings and to provide a
for an isolating mega-structure development already suggested for this
group sought to create stronger east west linkages to connect
residential neighborhoods to the downtown core and to orient its new
concentration of commercial activity outwards towards and across route
(formerly the main street of the city - Tel Hai St.), the major roadway
connects Kiryat Shmona to the rest of the country and separates the
east and west of the highway.
evening, the residents and stakeholders gathered again. The charrette
the two alternatives born of the concepts and the ideas from the
and everyone reviewed them and gave their comments.
of the fourth day began with regrouping the charrette professional team
groups of the same profession (economic, social, environmental,
landscape and architectural). Each group went over both alternatives
developed recommendations from their professional point of view. In the
afternoon, the best of both plans were refined into one plan and a
recommendations were developed: reusing vacant buildings before
buildings; beginning with small-scale improvements to catalyze activity
local identity; restricting commercial activity in the civic square
local businesses; encouraging a framework of local entrepreneurship for
of all ages. The idea is that by reinforcing the local environment in
portion of the downtown, the revitalized town would in turn create a
local identity that in and of itself would become the basis of a
economy that both benefits the people that live here and through this
local uniqueness attract tourists.
presentation was before a panel of professional and political guests
region. The plans presented reflected a vision that was both cultural
physical within a framework of modest and implemental ideas and
and final day of the charrette the final plans were being prepared. The
of the completed work was impressive. In the evening, all the plans,
and drawings were pinned up. The citizens and stakeholders gathered to
see the results of the five days of intensive cooperative work. The team presented the once
again revised proposals and plans. The response of the residents,
shop owners, public
officials and all stakeholders was very warm. The people thanked us for
them an opportunity to speak up and for listening to them, giving them
a better future and said that the suggested plans make them proud. The
residents had changed within a week from cynics to believers. The shop
were making plans to get together and move forward in a
common urban purpose that would
make staying in Kiryat Shmona worth while.
Network of Public Squares
Social and Economic Development