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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Zur Hadassah - New Town
    The planning of the new town of Zur Hadassah, located high up in the Jerusalem Hills, is a very different design task than Yokneam, for a town is not just a neighbourhood built large.  Our commission was initially for a large section of the town to be built on a hilly ridge called 'Kitron' that lay across a valley from another part of the town, which had already been planned on a ridge parallel to it called San San.  Ironically this topographic structure of the two ridges had similarities to my project in East Talpiot in Jerusalem, which I had planned twenty-five years earlier.

     Soon after starting to plan the 6500 dwellings on the Kitron Ridge, the Ministry of Housing decided to cancel the existing plans on its sister ridge 'San San', and appoint a new planner.  This time I got a personal request from David Socket, the Chief Architect of the Jerusalem Region, to take upon myself the re-planning of San San as well. This was certainly an offer I could not refuse; it would be more than half of the entire town of 100,000 population and the largest planning commission that I had ever tackled.  The timing was perfect; we were just completing the planning of 'Shar Hagai' in Yokneam, where we had developed a new analytical approach to sites of similar topographical characteristics. But Zur Hadassah was not only five times larger, it was also infinitely more complex and was located the very different type of landscape.of the Jerusalem Hills

    An interesting aspect of the site's land structure was the great difference between the two ridges, which lay symmetrically, disposed along either side of a broad valley. ' Kitron'  had the classical form of a longitudinal ridge with the land falling steeply on either side, while San San was a series of small hills spread out along the ridge-line, with a right angled extension to the east at its upper reach.  There was an equally different character to each of the valleys on the other side of the ridges.  To the west of 'Kitron' a deep-forested valley divided it from the existing main approach road to the new town.  The valley itself was dotted with small hollows along the valley floor, which were transformed into pools of water in the winter.  At the first sight of this valley I realized that it must be preserved in all its natural beauty.   On the eastern slope of San San, which was however some few hundred meters within the Green line (the 1967 border), the valley was sparsely covered with trees, the beauty of the rock formation being the dominant landscape feature. A small Arab village, called Fuki’n, (the propuciation of which which gave me a lot of problems!,] was located on a slope just over the Green line. As I had found in East Talpiot, the scale of the Arab buildings was a function of the room-sized aggregation of the family homes. This and their further grouping into clusters of the 'chamula' (the extended family's land ownership) created a rich morphology which could be emulated in the new housing areas in an appropriate way.  All these varied natural features had to be carefully analyzed and integrated into the future new town plan, which inevitably would be a major intervention into the unique nature of the hilly landscape.

   At this stage of the work there arose the same fundamental issue which I had faced with regards to the planning of East Talpiot many years before as well as the new neighbourhood in Yokneam Should we build a town at all on incredibly beautiful site?

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