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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
III 1970 - 1980
Public Buildings in East Talpiot
As the construction of the cluster of housing in the Jewish Quarter was completed and the contract for the Central Business District came to a close, the planning of the new neighbourhood in East Talpiot continued. I had not made any effort to get new work, as I was quite busy and knew that new work would only mean increasing the office staff and I was wondering how to decrease it.  I was lucky that finishing the Central Business District Plan enabled me to reduce the size of my senior staff.  According to my contract, some of them were handed over to the Municipality as the New Urban Planning Unit.  I closed the office in Shamai Street in 1973, and a year later, I sadly left the lovely little office in Habad Street in the Jewish Quarter.  Then, when I was looking forward to a period of relaxation, three new commissions for public buildings literately dropped into my lap, one after the other. The chief engineer of the Jewish Agency, Joshua Rabinovitz had seen my housing in East Talpiot and was impressed with the character of the architecture which I had developed during the design and building of the first stages of the neighbourhood.  I had believed that architectural style should not be primarily an expression of personality, or some superimposed architectural theories, but should grow naturally from the functional requirements of the future occupants of the housing, and the location of the buildings in the particular environment. In East Talpiot, this would imply the local climate, the desert landscape with its surrounding indigenous buildings and the more ambiguous aspect of the cultural and historic context of the place. In East Talpiot and indeed in most of the neighbourhoods and towns where I have had the responsibility for the planning, I had the significant advantage of architecturally designing the buildings within the urban context of my own town plans.  This was no accident. Way back in 1963, I had written in an article; that; "My aim was to pursue work which would involve me in the overall strategic planning of the built environment and in the detailed architecture design of some of its component parts, in a way as to mitigate much of the environmental distortion which often results when these two scales of design are developed separately".  Joshua Rabinovitz appreciated my professional approach, and asked me to locate two sites within the neighbourhood for two important projects. One of them was for a large immigrant centre and the other for a Hostel for young couples and bachelors.  After the Six-Day war there was already a constant stream of immigrants from Western Europe and America to Jerusalem and housing was in short supply.  The concept of preparing temporary living quarters for a period of one or two years for new immigrants was revived, but this time with a difference.  The living accommodation would be of a high standard, and in addition to living quarters, a language school and kindergarten would be an integral part of the building, as well as administrative offices, a clubroom and even a small synagogue.  The second project was a hostel for young couples without children and for singles.  This building was to comprise a hundred and twenty one-room and two room apartments, with a club room and manager's office only. I located the sites for these two projects in relation to three other public buildings. One of them was a Small Commercial Centre,


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