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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
 Was there another solution to the real need for new homes in the region?  There was, but in my opinion it would create a more destructive intervention into thenatural   landscape.  Many small moshavim (co-operative settlements) of some one to two hundred small farmsteads were dotted throughout the Jerusalem Hills.  With the decline in agriculture throughout Israel over the last two decades, these settlements were searching for a more profitable use of their vacant land.  Negotiations were under way with the landowner, which was the National Land Authority, to permit them to extend their settlement by building additional residential dwellings.  The issue was considered to be a purely financial one, involving compensation for taking back from them the rented land that was no longer being used for agricultural actiyities.  There was already a proposal to allow them to change some of the existing land-use to residential, permitting them to build some 130 additional dwellings per settlement, which would almost double their size. This I believed would be the thin end of the wedge, as it was a price that established a principal. This number might inevitably rise and cause an increasing proliferation of suburban type building, spreading like a cancerous growth throughout the natural landscape of the region.  I believed it would be better to concentrate the legitimate need for residential building into the existing compact town within its precisely defined borders with a relatively high residential density.  The solution to the economic plight of the small settlements should be solved within the framework of an overall Regional Plan, utilizing their physical and social infrastructure for Tourism, Health and Educational facilities. Even small hi-tech industries could be located at appropriate critical points within the transportation network, or quite independently of it, as the settlements ultimately would be connected nationally and even internationally to the electronic grid. To play the ‘residential real-estate game’ with agricultural settlements was in my opinion a dangerous path to take. The dilemma of how to integrate a new town finto this beautiful landscape remained a task to be achieved however, and it was this, which I considered to be the initial focus of my work.  

    I have spoken often of my belief that urban planning is not a linear process. One does not simply start with the general issues then proceed incrementally to the details. A much more complex and diverse approach is required, operating simultaneously at different scales and endeavouring to integrate a large number urban systems, avoiding in the preliminary stages the domination of any one of the functions over others.  
   Planning at this multiple scale is a holistic effort of creative thought and whereas a team; of a broad range of professionals, administrators and representatives of the public are deeply involved in the process, I considered that there has to be one person who must ultimately take the responsibility to see that a complete picture, containing all the many intrinsic parts, is presented at each stage of the development.  It is an old joke to say that a camel is a horse created by a committee, but with no offense to the camel, it is also a true epigram.  In spite of the many commitments and the occasional conflicts I was dealing with at that time, I made a great effort to be in personal command during the planning process of the Zur Hadassah - New Town.



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