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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
III 1970 - 1980
Granot Hagalil and the Planning of Cunietra

The planning of Granot Hagalil was a new departure in settlement design in Israel.  The reasons for it were several. In existing moshavim (Co-operative agricultural settlements) the children of the second generation of the original settlers were no longer finding their place in the moshav due to the economic decline in the agricultural sector, as well as the attraction to other types of better paying employment.  On the other hand they did not want to live in the town, preferring to be near their families, but in a separate home and not in an additional house on the same family plot. There was also a growing demand amongst young people in the larger towns of Israel, to live in closer proximity to nature.  Young families often organized together with their friends, and applied to the Housing Ministry through the Land Authority for plots of land and a framework for financing the building of their homes. All these developments contributed to the concept of 'Community Settlements'. (a translation from the Hebrew term for this type of community).   In fact what had been reinvented was "A Village", from which residents could work within reasonable distance from their homes, have their dwellings on individual plots of land and be un-encumbered by the co.-operative restrictions of the Moshav Movement and the over-close proximity to their families. 

  I was commissioned to design such a settlement close by an existing Moshav in the northern Galilee, which was called Goren.  The new project was located a short distance from a regional highway and adjacent to the existing offices of the Regional Council.  The site consisted of a groupe of small hills overlooking a 'protected' forested area to the south, east and west. A few kilometres away, a mountain range ran along the northern border with Lebanon.  The size of the settlement was again a controversial issue.  As with the previous planning of co-operative settlements, Raanan Weitz insisted again on the limitation of settlements to 120 families, a number, that had already become a dogma.  My approach to this requirement, after a long history of compromising with Ra'anan, was to make a plan for 120 dwellings designed in such a way as to permit an organic extensions to take place in the future. This of course would not be too apparent on the submitted plan, as I had previously contrived in Ramat Magshamim.  The structure of the existing topography of this group of small hills was the key to solving this particular design problem.

   An important planning issue was the design and location of the central public facilities - the 'Village Centre'. As some of the existing Regional Public facilities were already located along a main highway, I proposed to augment them with other regional requirements, creating a "Gateway" from the highway, with a tree-lined entrance road leading up to the settlement, arriving directly at the Village Centre.  This consisted of a small cluster of public buildings surrounding the Village Square, with an adjacent parking area.  It included two kindergarten buildings, a small grocery store, clubrooms, offices, a clinic, and a small synagogue.  The primary school buildings were located in the Regional Centre, requiring the busing of the children to school.  On either side of this Centre, two hills were developed as residential clusters.



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