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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
A Master Plan of Yokneam
Driving out of Sderoth in the Negev, through the congested coastal plain and up into the gentle hills of Galilee was always an exhilarating experience. It is hard to realize that the completely different landscapes of these two towns are barely 200 km. apart. Passing through the deeply cut Valley Milick, the town of Yokneam can be seen perched on the ridge high above the main road.  For me this town is a familiar and friendly place.  It was here that I designed and saw built some of its first houses when I was a young architect working in the Department of Housing in 1956.  Forty years later in 1996, I designed the new neighbourhood of ‘Shaar Hagai’, which is at present finelly under construction.  It was in 1998 that I had been asked to prepare a Master Plan for the extension of the town from 20,000 people to one of 45,000 by the magic date of 2020.  I liked the symmetry of the last date and its association with vision and good eyesight, but I believed that the target date could be anytime beyond that.  It is often difficult for people to grasp the implications of time beyond one or two years, or at the most, ten. So when I presented my first conceptual sketches of the expanded town of Yokneam, there was a gasp of incredulity from the members of the 'guiding committee'.   The visual image of the town's expansion as expressed in the plans which I had hung up, particularly as usual, shocked the varied ranks of the 'greens'. They easily outflanked the more circumspect brigades from the Ministries of Transport, Industry, Interior and Social Welfare etc., and the local representative of the innumerable parties that comprise the merry- go-round of Israeli political coalitions.  The 'greens' must have assumed that I had left outside in the parking lot, a couple of divisions of D- nine tractors with their engines running.  It made no impression on them when I plaintively claimed, with even a touch of poetic rhetoric that “these plans are not necessarily what will be, but what could be”.   I was relieved when someone timidly asked, “When, will all this take place?”  I tried to explain that our concept was conceived for an abstract future.  My drawings I claimed were a point of departure for a discussion of planning possibilities, not the final Outline Plan that we were proposing to be officially adopted. When I realized that I was being either misunderstood or vociferously misrepresented, I figured it was time to break off the fight.  It was time for the only balm for stormy meetings; ‘The protocol’.  Is someone writing the protocol?  Will this and that be included?  Will all the names of the speakers appear as evidence of their presence and involvement?”  For some of them, the protocol will justify their vocal representation at the meeting, to their superiors or party comrades.  How very innocuous the protocol will appear in contrast to the fireworks of the explosive meeting itself  Afterwards we will send off this relatively placid document to all and sundry and set up individual meetings with the different protagonists.  These will take place in our own office in small groups.  There will be modest refreshments available to chasten our guests to keep the tone of discussion quiet and friendly, at least at the beginning.  We too will be more conciliatory, after all they are our invited guests.  In a small group of interlocutors a preliminary bit of gossip will go a long way to put everyone into good humour, and in the fullness of time we will begin to discuss the serious aspects emendating from the previous discussion on the Master Plan for Yokneam.

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