Reconquered landscape in Tel Aviv’s densely populated metropolitan area
Latz+Partner: The plateau of the table mountain is enthroned in the middle of the dense urban fabric and is almost constantly exposed to hard winds and blazing solar radiation. A thin yet heavy layer of crushed concrete protects the surface against erosion and heat. Water collects in a system of ditches during the short rainy season. Low fragrant scrub and herbs along its numerous branches structure the wide open area. They take rainwater from above the landfill capping, consisting of layers of liners and clay, to underground gravel depots, above which the still small trees will thrive to form shady groves.
Wind sweeps across the western rim of the plateau, falcons and crows glide on air currents and the view of the Tel Aviv skyline is captivating from the belvedere cut into the edge. The wedge-shaped access ramp and the platform shaded by artificial trees recede into the imposing silhouette of the Hiriya landfill. It is noticeably cooler here, almost calm, and the view is directed towards the skyline. Only when moving up to the railing with the engraved outlines and names of the distant towers, do the numerous visitors, school classes and tour groups feel the hot wind.
In the east, the plateau surrounds irrigated green terraces and the clear water of an oasis. Dry-stone walls, constructed from recycled demolition materials, adjust to the constant settlement of the waste. A special retention system reduces evaporation to a minimum and supports lush vegetation of species that like to have “their feet in water and their heads on fire”. The only stable area on the household waste landfill supports a building with restaurant, large terrace and small video room. It is a concrete slab, which was used to clean refuse trucks on it, and raised metre by metre as the level of the refuse increased. A shallow ramp is fitted into the topography and serves as a route for the visitors’ shuttle service. It descends to the visitor centre which informs about the methods and opportunities of recycling and about the steps leading to the reclamation of the landfill.
A broad terrace retains the steep mountain slopes which gradually begin to turn green. It has been raised with millions of cubic metres of building rubble after the polluted streams at the foot of the slope had been relocated to the plain. The terrace is still bare; however, in a few years’ time a wide ring of trees, planted in agricultural patterns, will accommodate numerous functions and will frame the mountain. Ramps and bridges will connect to the plain where a retention basin for periodic floods is going to be excavated: A park in the flood plain with larger trees, branching streams and paths; part of the vast retention system which will protect Tel Aviv from floods in the future whilst being developed into a national recreation landscape: Park Ariel Sharon.
The issue of whether we need a park in this place warrants a political response. The expanding and ever-denser cities in the region of Tel Aviv crowd out many open space activities and increase the distance to the open landscape; this intense development can only be compensated through parks. Parks that are sufficiently robust in their structure to incorporate the diverse interests of users. The question as to whether it is actually possible to build a park in such a location meets with a positive response in every respect, as the somewhat dire conditions become the main attraction.
Landscape Architecture: Latz+Partner
1st prize in international competition 2004
Design and realization: since 2004
In collaboration with: Moria-Sekely, Tel Aviv
Client: Park Ariel Sharon Ltd. Beracha Foundation,
Area: 118 hectares
Award: Green Good Design 2010 Award in the category Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture