The Urban Environmental Good and its Housing Aftermaths: Revisiting Ethics of Planning and Design Strategies in Jaffa Slope Park
Naama Meishar (The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics/Tel-Aviv University)
In this paper I propose a close reading of an ethical conflict that surfaced between an urban environmental reclamation project and urban housing policy in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Inaugurated in 2010, Jaffa Slope Park, a new urban park in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, was constructed on a recycled landfill on Jaffa's waterfront. This 20-hectare park, sculpted as three massive, rolling, lawny hills, is situated on reclaimed land from the Mediterranean that has been gradually filled since the 1960s with ruins of pre-1948 Palestinian buildings and other construction waste collected from the greater Tel Aviv district. A decade ago, the ruins and waste were grinded on-site and became indigenous to the park's earth, paths and planting soil.
Nevertheless this celebrated environmental achievement has become an accelerator of an ongoing gentrification process initiated in the 1990s by a neoliberal planning policy that dominated municipal urban planning for West Jaffa. As a result of this policy, poor protected Palestinian tenants were pushed to other neighborhoods and towns while affluent newcomers, both Arab and Jewish, refurbished the former Palestinian neighborhood of Ajami.
This presentation of a conflict between two urban goods – namely, environmental recovery and housing – will contribute to a recent debate on that phenomenon. Moreover, I will speculate on planning and landscape architecture strategies that might address this ethical conflict. My proposed speculations are based on a residents discourse during public participation meetings that took place during the park's design process and on alternative design stages that were presented by the landscape architect between the years 2003 and 2006 and were subsequently overruled by different planning institutions.