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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
II 1960 - 1970
Arad - New Town
   Yehuda Tamir, the Assistant Director General of the Government Housing Department was insrumental in my involvement in the planning of a new town in the Negev Desert.  Arad was its name. It was located some 45 kilometers east of Beer Sheva on the hills overlooking the Dead Sea. Visually, it was no ordinary desert, but had the unique appearance of a lunar landscape. Arad was the 24th New Development Town to be planned in Israel and was radically different from the others in several ways.  Before the planning commenced, a camp was built on the site for the people who would do the planning and supervise the construction.  The camp itself was planned as a prototype of the sort of housing layout to be adopted. Although the buildings were lightweight temporary structures, they were disposed around small paved courtyards.  The camp exists till today as evidence of what we then said; that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary building. At the initial stage of the planning, we considered the relivance of an urban concept of the New London satellite Town of ‘Hook’, (plans which had recently been proposed, and which I had seen when I was in England,) as a relivant prototype for the New Town of Arad. The Town of ‘Hook’ was never realized in England and I thought at the time, how ironic it was William Blake's metaphoric last line of a poem, which became one of the most famous of hymns. “And we shall build Jerusalem, in England's green and pleasant land”, he fantasized, now the prototype of the English plan for ‘Hook’, in the form of the Israeli New Town of Arad, was to be built in Israel's hot and dry desert landscape!  In fact the highly compact plan of Hook was maybe more appropriate to a desert climate rather than the rolling hills of Surrey.

   Indeed Arad's essential urban feature was a compact layout of buildings of relatively high density, consisting of six residential quarters distributed equally on either side of a linear commercial centre, which in time would grow together with the execution of each pair of neighbourhoods.  This would be the core of the city comprising some 5000-6000 dwelling units. Relatively low-density clusters of housing would be additionaly located on the small hills surrounding it. The structure of each one of the central Quarters would be a microcosm of the central core of the town itself.  A pedestrian route longitudinally transversing each neighbourhood, connected the local public buildings, like beads on a string, to the main Linear Center of shops, offices and cultural facilities. The transport system took the form of a series of perimeter roads surrounding each neighbourhood from which parking cul-de-sacs penetrated into the housing precincts. In this way, almost complete segregation of vehicular and pedestrian movement could be assured.

    One of the most fundamental differences between Arad and other Israeli New Towns, which had previously been established, was the fact that Arad has been systematically built according to a preconceived overall urban concept.  Many of the other Development Towns had originally been based on the most rudimentary plans consisting of a layout of a small number of neighbourhoods around a minimal commercial centre. They subsequently developed haphazardly through the improvised additions of other neighbourhoods.
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