Summary of

Kiryat Shmona International Charrette (public participation planning process) for the Urban Renewal of the Old City Center

December 2-6, 2007

The MIU - Movement for Israeli Urbanism organized the charrette in Kiryat Shmona.

The charrette process engages in listening to the public on the first day, then utilizing the skills of a wide range of experts to generate alternative proposals, then through intensive public interaction, winnows down the proposals, and finally through more public input arrives at a consensus approach.

This was the first charrette of its kind in Israel.

There have been many failed attempts at revitalizing Kiryat Shmona's downtown which was once lively and is now deteriorating and where decision after decision has made things worse. This attempt was different in that the professionals learned from the people who live there and made an effort to create a stable sustainable center for Kiryat Shmona.

The public and the professionals started with abstractions; there was no mandate to solve a specific problem. Both the specific problem to be addressed in the downtown as well as solutions had to be defined in one intensive five day session.

tel-hai blvd aka 90

Over one hundred people including residents, the mayor, deputy housing minister and the charrette professional team, including three professionals from North America, gathered on the first evening in Kiryat Shmona to begin the five day charrette process that will hopefully help determine a new direction for this city’s downtown. Most of the people who attended the first evening were regular people: shop owners, students, home makers & youth. When asked for their hopes and dreams for their city, the answers were pretty consistent. The people needed basics: Streets and sidewalks cleaned, night-time lighting, places for people to go both young and old, active as well as passive recreation, and an orientation of the downtown towards the people that both live here as well as visit here. The work on this first day was to generate many ideas very fast.

Day 1

On the morning of the second day, the charrette team start sorting through all the ideas and came up with a range of approaches, social, economic, development and design approaches to address the range of concerns and ideas expressed. This day was both exciting and challenging. The team divided into work groups. Each group was made up of multi-disciplinary professionals who had never met each other before this workshop. Each group started putting ideas down on paper until they got clearer and clearer.

In the evening close to a hundred people gathered again to review the concepts. Each person was given the opportunity to comment on each of five concepts. The discussions were rich and even heated at times. Overall the spirit of give and take, with the assistance of good facilitation, allowed for a rich exchange of ideas and the ability to more clearly understand the community’s point of view, allowing for further sharpening of ideas on the third day.

Day 2



On the morning of the third day, progress was made with regard to drawing plans, establishing programs and putting things into detail.

After reviewing the ideas and remarks made by the community the evening before, the concepts were reduced to two alternatives and the team was divided into two work groups. Both alternatives had to incorporate the supporting economic, social and environmental plans.

One group concentrated on developing a plan that revitalized a network of north south alleys and parking lots at the back of buildings that could be transformed into a connected system of pedestrian oriented public squares that runs the length of the Kiryat Shmona downtown. This series of spaces already connects the market at the north end of the central district to the civic center at the south, Zahal Square, but it is very disconnected, underdeveloped and its promise as a pathway unrealized. This group also took on making an alternate plan for the Egged site located in the center of the north south central city axis. The objective was to link this area to its immediate surroundings and to provide a credible alternative for an isolating mega-structure development already suggested for this site.

The second group sought to create stronger east west linkages to connect surrounding residential neighborhoods to the downtown core and to orient its new major concentration of commercial activity outwards towards and across route 90 (formerly the main street of the city - Tel Hai St.), the major roadway that connects Kiryat Shmona to the rest of the country and separates the city to east and west of the highway.

In the evening, the residents and stakeholders gathered again. The charrette team presented the two alternatives born of the concepts and the ideas from the evening before and everyone reviewed them and gave their comments.

Day 3





The morning of the fourth day began with regrouping the charrette professional team to groups of the same profession (economic, social, environmental, transportation, landscape and architectural). Each group went over both alternatives and developed recommendations from their professional point of view. In the afternoon, the best of both plans were refined into one plan and a series of recommendations were developed: reusing vacant buildings before building new buildings; beginning with small-scale improvements to catalyze activity and local identity; restricting commercial activity in the civic square area to local businesses; encouraging a framework of local entrepreneurship for people of all ages. The idea is that by reinforcing the local environment in this portion of the downtown, the revitalized town would in turn create a unique local identity that in and of itself would become the basis of a sustainable economy that both benefits the people that live here and through this type of local uniqueness attract tourists.

The evening presentation was before a panel of professional and political guests from Israel’s central region. The plans presented reflected a vision that was both cultural and physical within a framework of modest and implemental ideas and recommendations.

Day 4



On the fifth and final day of the charrette the final plans were being prepared. The scope of the completed work was impressive. In the evening, all the plans, diagrams and drawings were pinned up. The citizens and stakeholders gathered to hear and see the results of the five days of intensive cooperative work. The team presented the once again revised proposals and plans. The response of the residents, shop owners, public officials and all stakeholders was very warm. The people thanked us for giving them an opportunity to speak up and for listening to them, giving them hope for a better future and said that the suggested plans make them proud. The residents had changed within a week from cynics to believers. The shop owners were making plans to get together and move forward in a common urban purpose that would make staying in Kiryat Shmona worth while.

Day 5


final proposal
Green Renewal
Network of Public Squares
Egged Site

Planning Concept
Social and Economic Development
Selected Projects

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