Street-Garden, category A

​**Usage of trees and vegetation as generators of urbanism in the desert city**

The increasing understanding of the significance of open public spaces in the urban tissue has led the planning institutes to form standardization. However, the standard defines a minimum quota for open areas as a function of service radius per person. This definition encourages a unified open area standard that is supposed to apply to every city and neighborhood regardless of its urban, metropolitan and geographical context.

Therefore, this project has begun as a research that examines the open public spaces of the city as a whole (pocket gardens, parks, urban plazas, paved area, street, open spaces, etc.). The research’s main objective was to divert the emphasis from the quantitative planning-guidelines and standards towards understanding the urban functions of the public open space in its various forms, and towards examination of the parameters affecting the way its quality is perceived.

_The city of Be’er-Sheva as a case study_

In the past, Be’er-Sheva, the second largest city in Israel by area and the major city of the country’s southern metropolis, was situated on the boundary between semi-arid and arid climate. Today, however, due to global desertification processes the city is entirely a part of the Global Deserts Belt, which accounts for over 41% of the global terrain and inhabits over a third of the world’s population. These facts indicate the necessity for the development of Be’er-Sheva as the major city in the Negev-Desert metropolis on a local scale, and as a field of research for a global strategy.

Curiously, while the global debate focuses on the problem of shortage in open spaces within cities, Be’er-Sheva has numerous vast open-spaces “gardens” that mainly suffer from a lack of quality, diversity, and uniqueness- leading to negligence and lack of attraction. Furthermore, in light of historical processes, Be’er-Sheva has no streets but rather wide and major roads that dissect the city. Their typical cross section is not adapted to human scale, therefore creating an unpleasant experience. The lack of outdoor urban leisure and recreation areas that are detached from air-conditioned commercial centers manifests in the consumption habits of local residents. The city’s streets and gardens are empty of urbanism, the neighborhoods’ character is suburban and introvert – its open spaces are as an urban desert.

_The influence of trees and vegetation on the perception of quality of open spaces_

The research indicates that urban contributions of the desert-city’s open-areas are not proportional to their abundance and vastness since many of them are perceived as low quality spaces. The finding showing that trees and vegetation are the most significant factors in generating positive response to urban spaces strengthens the significance of their presence in the general urban texture and in the desert city in particular. Another finding that supports this argument is that although residents mostly consume “paved” spaces adjacent to public and commercial areas, they actually feel better in the “green” spaces all year long. The fact that presence of trees and vegetation has more than double the positive effect of shade shows that although trees have a meaningful role in creating micro-climate, their presence also has a significant psychological effect.


In light of the significance of the streets array in the urban tissue, despite its poor urban functioning,

and in light of the significance of the open-spaces array, despite their suburbanization and neglect,

why shouldn’t we combine the street feature with the garden qualities?

The intertwining of Street-Gardens as whole-city infrastructure produces a master plan that suggests the reduction, prioritization and concentration of open-areas, for the sake of efficient resource management as well as assuring higher standards for their development, all of which will increase their value in the urban-desert.

The Street-Garden is an urban sequence that binds small POS, public institutes, paved areas adjacent to commercial centers, unbuilt areas and watersheds into one entity – inter-neighborhood open public space. Its sequential character allows for an alternative circulation axis with diverse programs, recreation hubs, public buildings and leisure spaces along it. These were located in areas that allow the meeting of pedestrian ways and public interest points (using architectural tools that characterize the street) with the areas with the best climatic comfort along with a “green” sensation of abundance (using architectural tools that characterize the garden); Due to the fact that in the arid climate - the shape, width, shade and presence of treetops have the ability to create a platform for encounter, recreation and urban vitality- an oasis for the desert-city.

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IFLA Europe
VESTRE Hunter Industries

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