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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
II 1960 - 1970
Kibbutz Gonen
  In 1968 the office was still in the cellar in No. 9 Bloch Street, but there was already some five or six drawing tables, a chief architect, Tommy Ungar, and four draughts- women, one of whom doubled as a secretary.  My partner Adam was primarily involved in the production of working drawings, whereas my activities were more in the conceptual design and development stage of.our projects. I was also the ‘Foreign Minister’ of the partnership, while I left the handling of all financial aspects of the practice to my partner. Like my father I seemed to have had little talent for business therefore no desire to deal with the financial side of the office.  At first I was happy to be relieved of this chore, but in fact I was wrong to think that others would deal on my behalf with what I considered as the undesirable part of the profession.  Ultimately I would have to take this burden on myself and run my own office, but that would be only towords the end of  1969.

   The most important projects during this period were the planning of Arad, a new town in the Negev and Kibbbutz Gonen in the Upper Galilee, as well as a hotel in Caesaria, which I would design together with Georges Candilis. The different ways which these projects took shape deserves description and put into the context of my development as an architect.

     Gonen was the first of several kibbutzim, which I was to design.  It was alro the first time that a kibbutz had turned to a private architect to plan their settlement since the establishment of the State, after which the Technical Department of the Jewish Agency did the planning.  In the pre-state period however, architects like Sharon, Kauffmann and Krakover and others of their generation had designed kibbutzim, so I was in fact reviving an older tradition and following in the footsteps of some of these fine Israeli planners and architects whom I greatly admired.

   The young members of Kibbutz Gonen were dissatisfied with thier planning by the Jewish Agency Technical Department.  One of the members was Rina's my wife's cousin, Yoel Oren, a tall blond boy with a happy disposition and generous nature.  Apparently I was the only architect that he knew, and one weekend he invited me to a general meeting of all 'the comrades'. This was a very special experience for me, being the first time that I had a direct contact with a collective client body that would eventually live in the buildings that we were asked to design.   This was the ideal relationship upon which I had once written a paper at University. But first I was to learn what a general meeting in a Kibbutz was like.  It took place in the old dining hall.  I do not know if the entire membership of the kibbutz took part, but the volume of the simultaneous discussion. if you could call it that, between everyone there, certainly made the impression that this was the case.  Such total democracy I realized had some definite drawbacks. George Orwell had written in ‘Animal Farm’ that, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.  So it was in Gonen that evening.  It could well have been, that all the comrades were equal, but some of them were at least much more articulate and I realized that amongst these few members I would eventually find the building committee, which would enable me to proceed with my work.

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