A kibbutz is a form of collective community in Israel which was traditionally based on agriculture. The kibbutzim began as utopian communities combining notions of Socialism and Zionism in aim to create a just society in which every member gives as much as he can, and receives as much as he needs. Today, many of the Kibbutzim have lost their unique character and have largely undergone privatization and organizational changes. Kibbutz Be’eri (located in the southern part of Israel- the Negev, and adjacent to the Gaza Strip) is one of the few remaining living examples of this notion and community. With a dedicated community and a strong high-tech income base, it manages to thrive in the face of the idea’s demise, and maintain its special communal character as well as a an ever-growing community.
The public life revolve around the central plaza of the Kibbutz- which could be described as the public living room around which the dining hall and other public functions are located. The housing units, gardens, educational facilities, the print factory, and the rest of the facilities surround the main plaza, and are linked to it with paths and walkways. Most of the “traffic” and movement within the kibbutz is done by foot or with bicycle (the elderly use motorized scooters).
As the Kibbutz reaches its’ 70th anniversary, and the community is rapidly expanding with a young generation of continuing families, arises the need to renew and refit the public grounds to the changing needs and growing population.
Our Proposal for the renewal of the public grounds dealt with several competing needs: Firstly, the currently disorganized, large, open plaza was inefficiently used for the diverse functions it was meant to hold. Secondly, the growing population that overflows the plaza at peek hours of the day (dinning hours, weekends, special events, ceremonies, etc.) with bicycles and scooters riding across and parking sporadically, barely left room for access by the entrances or for public gathering.
The main objective was to create a free, open and uninterrupted space for gatherings and ceremonies, and while doing so, organize the movement and parking in the plaza. By reorganizing and allocating riding paths and introducing new parking solutions in the outskirts of the main buildings and plaza and close to the entrances, we were able to free and rejuvenate the gathering spots in the plaza and its adjacent gardens.
The public Plaza was re-conceptualized as a combination of three sub-plazas or outdoor public rooms: The ceremonial plaza (by the symbolic water tower and “the peoples house” – meant for ceremonial gatherings and performances), the outer dining area (for outdoor picnics, special dinners and the kibbutz bazar and market events) and the main entrance to the dining hall (an organized plaza that allows both a clear access to the dining hall, comfortable and aesthetic parking, and intimate sitting areas for small spontaneous gatherings).
Project: redesign and renovation of Kibbutz Be’eri’s public plaza
Status: in progress
Client: Kibbutz Be’eri
Location: Kibbutz Be’eri, Israel
Program: flexible public grounds that house diverse needs and functions in the community’s life
Design: Karen Lee Bar-Sinai, Chen Farkas (SAYA) with Maya Levi
3D Rendering: Hanan Ben-Shoshan