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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
The Haifa Port Terminal
Town planning often remains a paper exercise sometimes for years before it is realized, whereas the architectural design of a building is translated relatively quickly into the reality of bricks, stone, cement and all the many materials that create a shell over a multitude of functions and human activities. Simultaneously with the work of the town planning projects in which we were involved in the early nineties, which would take years before we could see them in reality, we were asked to design two quite small but very interesting buildings.  One was in Jerusalem, in East Talpiot; a Community Sports Hall of some 1600 square meters.  The other a minute structure of some 750 square meters in Haifa.  Each one was located in very different geographic landscapes.  The first one on the steep topographical slopes of the Jerusalem terrain located at an altitude of 800 meters, and the other on the flat tarmac marshaling yards of the Haifa Port, three meters above sea level.

    The second small project falls neatly into the category of what Martin Pauely has called ‘Terminal Architecture’ in his book of that name.  Pauely is a very serious and highly intelligent commentator on contemporary architecture.  He elaborates the term ‘Terminal Architecture’ in both of its two meanings.  One he claims describes the final demise of architecture as we know it today, now in the throes of what he believes to be a 'terminal' illness'.  The other meaning describes the nature of a' new breed' of buildings whose purpose is to contain all the functions required for the distribution of goods and/or information.  These unique types of buildings, Pauley believes, will become important facilities for the rapid growth of the electronic information technology, which will create an increasing globalization of activities throughout the world.  I had just finished reading Pauely's book, when we received the small commission to design the nerve centre for the Container Port of Haifa.  It struck me how well this little project fitted neatly into this second category of a 'Terminal Building'; transmitting it's coded orders for the reception, dispersal, and dispatch of the containers from the ships coming into port and leaving again with their anonymous cargoes.

   I was born in the port city of Liverpool and had been a sailor in my youth.  I loved the sight and sounds of the Merseyside dockyards in the early 1940's.  The shipping trade of course was already in decline, but the war years gave it a short-lived comeback.  The dramatic ballet of the giant cranes and gantries was one of the great visual attributes of the Liverpool docks in those days. The variety of goods and chattels, their colour and complexity was not only a delight to the eye, but triggered the imagination to speculate on their countries of origin and their future destinations.  So when I was asked by the Haifa Port Authority to meet their General Manager in his office in the Haifa dockyard, I was anticipating a similar rich visual experience. It was the first time that I had visited the cargo port.
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