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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
 I thought that I knew exactly where I would catch the familiar first sight of the skyline of Arad's buildings and was surprised, like I was with Kiriyat Gat that a different skyline popped up several kilometers before I had anticipated it... The Convention was to take place in a new Hotel, which had recently been built at the entrance to the town, at the southern end of its linear commercial center, which divided the six compact residential quarters from the groups of scattered single family houses. My heart dropped as the facade of the new Hotel filled the car's windscreen. It was a grotesque example of 'post-modern' architecture, poorly planned and slovenly built. Why did I come back, I thought, I should have left the memories of the nineteen sixties enshrined in their pristine black and white horizontal lines to remind me of the proud New Town of my younger days. 

    It was written in the invitation that the Convention would commence with a Festive Dinner! As we past through the double doors into the restaurant, I was faced with the sight of table upon table of decidedly elderly couples, trying, some even successfully, to be festive. Resisting with difficulty the urge to turn around and walk strait back through the same doors, I was faced with the awful truth that most of the Conventioneers were about my own age and that I had come to the right Hotel! Sitting glumly at a table by ourselves I suddenly saw a familiar face. It was Terry Greenberg, a friend with whom I had studied architecture at Manchester University fifty years ago. Once again, architecture had come to my rescue. At least the hour we spent at the dinner table together was enlivened by a warm conversation with a dear colleague about another world, which it seemed we both wanted to hold onto. But back in our guestroom the misgivings for having succumbed to the nostalgia of coming back to Arad returned with grater severity. What will I find tomorrow morning, walking through the Quarters of Ye'elim, Avishur and Chalamish; neighborhoods which had taken so many years of my life to plan and subsequently realize? It was with this disturbing question on my mind that I finally fell asleep.    Before breakfast we already drove out to see the Ye'elim Quarter which was the first part that I had planned, in 1963. Walking along the pedestrian way towards the clock tower I was depressed to see how neglected everything was. The clock had been glazed in and was apparently broken, even one of the hands was missing. It looked to me like a wounded animal. Observing the buildings themselves, I remembered what I had previously written about Ye'elim; (“It was architecture that would only need a new clean coat of paint every few years to make it look smart and fresh, sadly it didn't get such treatment for years”).  The Quarter needed more than a coat of paint now; it required a massive renovation job.  I fantasized going to the Mayor right away and asking him to give me the authority and the finance to do this, and he gladly agreed and I went to work and soon Ye'elim was the sparkling example of social housing it once was. But in the day dream I had forgotten that it was a Saturday, the Sabbath and I would not have found a soul in the Municipality and in any case I didn't even know the name of the Mayor and what was even more depressing, he wouldn't know who the hell I was either. “'I am the architect who...”,  the blank expression on his face would halt me in my tracks and I would retreat back through the gauntlet of bewildered secretaries.


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