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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
IV 1980 - 1990
Yavne - Housing
Changes were taking place in Israel within the career structure of architectural and town planning offices.  The shift in the balance of their clientele from predominantly public authorities to private development companies and building contractors, and the incremental introduction of the computer (C.A.D.) into offices, would have fundamental effects on the nature of architectural practice and ultimately, I believed, on the end product.  In the large and medium sized offices, the technical draftsman and the young qualified architects became amalgamated into a single group, plugging away at thIer keyboards or rather shifting ‘the mouse around' eight hours a day.  This resulted in many of the frustrated young architects prematurely opening small offices of their own in order to accommodate the growing demand of the private market, whose primary interest was now a low cost, high speed planning service, wich was not entirely conducive to professional work of a high quality. One of the main advantages of the introduction of the computer into planning offices it was believed, was the eradication of a lot of the so called 'black work' of manual drafting which the production of technical planning documents had previously required. However even the 'black work' was now often replaced by a blacker variety, eradicating the modest pleasurable experience of drafting by hand. I personally was not prepared to dispense with what dear old Klarwein had called “the sensual experience of drawing with the beloved implements of draftsmanship; a simple pencil and a piece of paper”.  Due to the accuracy of my own personal drafting, apart from my highly competitive speed, I was once asked by a computer acolyte at a meeting in the Housing Ministry, what programme I was using in the preparation of one of my immaculate hand drawn plans.  I told him it was based on the latest bio-technical software called ‘MacBest’; he went away happily satisfied, but mystified by what sounded to him like a Shakespearean trade name.

   No less traumatic for the planning profession, was the incremental privatization of the economic life in Israel. Amongst other things, it created an entirely different category of clients.  Architects, initially felt the Israeli version of privatization when the Ministry of Housing no longer assumed the role of client for the planning and building of ‘social housing’. The Ministry now preferred to farm out this responsibility to the large building firms such as the 'Workers Housing Company', which should have had at least the decency to have dropped the first word from their firms' name. Ultimately, land was marketed to inexperienced contractors, many of whom sprouted like wild mushrooms during the building boom of the early 90’s. The Ministry of Housing was also now divested of their responsibility for the provision of public buildings in new neighbourhoods, transferring it to the local authorities. In theory not a bad thing, but often the Municipalities lacked the professional manpower and adequate budgets to match the increased rate of housing development this resulted in a reduced level of municipal services, particularly in the peripheral Development Towns. Only the responsibility for the major levels of Statutory Town Planning remained with the Ministry of Housing, but this was also at risk of being 'privatized'.

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