Bat Yam: at the Forefront of the Israeli Landscape Urbanism Discussion?

Bat Yam, a small city with a checkered past of violence and bankruptcy, in 2003 began to prosper and revitalize itself under new leadership. Located just south of Tel-Aviv along the Mediterranean Sea, Bat Yam holds a number of museums and cultural institutions which the city highlights in its new local prosperity and rejuvenation initiatives by fostering art and design.

Bat Yam began the Biennale of Landscape Urbanism in 2008 as a way to re-examine the existing urban fabric, and to explore the use of art, landscape, and architectural installations as a way to weave the city together, improve lifestyles, bring awareness to the ideals of landscape urbanism, and use it as a medium in which to explore change, both political and social, through local design and craft.

“No high price tag installations have been installed to re-brand Bat Yam as the next art biennale capital; rather on-the-cheap opportunistic interventions prod the municipality and the residents to first take note of their city and then hopefully to take part. The curators used the biennale to actually jump start grassroots organization by commissioning teams of designers and sociologists to identify small sites of public/private ambiguity like parking strips and to organize the neighbors/stakeholders around collaborative designs for their improvement.”

To see a city embrace new ideas by creating an event to benefit its own residents directly is refreshing—in contrast to the desire for fame and recognition from afar. While international recognition is sure to follow, for now, local need remains both the drive and priority. See more at The Architects Newspaper or the Bay-Yam Biennale website.

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