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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
III 1970 - 1980
 If they went down into the wide chasm, they could walk on the flat paving stones of the Roman road, which we will return to their original position.  People will be able to touch the stones of your 'Wide Wall' itself.  If they should bend down to look under one of the counter-levered pathways, they could see one finely constructed concrete column rising from the most perfectly cast smooth concrete foundation pad, itself, standing on the authentic foundations of you remarkable archaeological discovery".

    I had anticipated a voluble response from Professor Avigad, what I got was a simple nod of agreement and another smile - two in one day!   The buildings were finished only six months behind the time schedule.  I had kept the architecture of the housing as simple as possible, using vertically proportioned windows, incised deeply into the plain stone walls, which were a pale orange in colour, and finished in a delicate, beautifully hand chiseled stone texture. I had allowed myself the small conceit of carving into the head stone of the windows, a slight recessed curve, almost imperceptible from a distance, but I considered it an appropriate gesture towards the historic context of the place. Included in the housing cluster, was a small courtyard, planted with shade trees, for the kindergarten children to play under. We inserted a few shops, facing onto the narrow alleyways that meandered around the houses; it was a characteristic urban tradition throughout the Old City. Much of the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter had been carried out in a somewhat plagiarized historical style, often with mock archways and stage-set facades.   It was what I called ‘Instant Medieval’ as in ‘instant coffee’. Some projects were even built incorporating plastic domes and half domes with fiberglass fenestration inserted into their stone walls. This was the ultimate architectural counterfeit which Bruno Bruno Zevy's description as ‘architectural hari kiri’ would have been more appropriate.    I remember a comment, which was made about these types of buildings, while I was still a student; it was by an English architect whose name I think was Ventris.  He tragically died young and I have already forgotten the buildings that he had designed, but his comment has remained in my memory for years and served me well.  At the end of a lecture, which he gave on the state of architecture in England at the time, he said:  “The enemy of contemporary architecture is not tradition, nor is it technology the enemy is vulgarity!”

     We believed that the evidence for the success of the little cluster of houses, which we had built in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, was the inability to distinguish them, on a recent air photo, from their surrounding built environment. We had achieved an imperceptible implant into the existing urban texture of this historic place. Only the sharp dark space enclosing the once existent "Wide Wall" could be discerned at the centre of our housing complex. It was the only element that looked entirely obtrusive and ‘new’, but in fact it was the most ancient thing of all. We had created the ultimate architectural example of gestalt,- the massive volume of the ancient wall had become a gaping chasm of memory.

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