|M.Sc Thesis||Department of Architecture and Town Planning|
|Supervisor:||Assoc. Prof. Alon-Mozes Tal|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The urban public space - e.g. the street, the public square and the municipal park - is where public and social life takes place. It functions as an arena wherein diverse interests meet and as a stage for social transformations and political processes to be construed and manifested. Among those, sustainable development and consumer culture are identified as two prominent trends at the beginning of the 21st century.
The central aim of this research is to explore how the conceptual tension between the objectives of the sustainability discourse and the impacts of the consumer culture manifests within the urban public space.
The research employs a “thick description” to interpret the public space between everyday life and urban planning actions. As a qualitative research, this work is based on diverse sources: ethnographic research, interviews with urban planners and professionals, analysis of programs and complementary information from additional sources: the municipal archive, the written press etc.
Sheinkin Street in Tel-Aviv is chosen as a case study for the research. It is a unique urban public space which has become a symbol for urban life in Tel-Aviv.
The major research findings are:
Sheinkin Street is an urban public space that has the potential to become a sustainable area. Nevertheless, this space is currently standing on a watershed. The research identifies adverse impacts of consumer culture that jeopardize its sustainability potential. Furthermore, the interactions between the planning system and everyday life are also contributing to the impoverishment of this potential. Alongside the apparent environmental impacts of the consumer culture, a major concern is recognized: the existence of its function as a democratic space with actual communities and meaningful activities.
To promote the sustainability idea, the research findings point to the need of expanding the conceptual foundations and approaches that underpin the urban sustainability discourse. Furthermore, there is a need for a real commitment to this idea, both by the planning system and by decision makers. Proclaiming such a commitment must be build upon a critical inquiry into the concept of sustainability in urban planning in order to demystify the many obscurities that permeate the concept. This also point out the important role of civil society organizations, and foremost the environmental NGOs who claim to promote the sustainability idea: in enriching the urban planning sustainability discourse and in advocating a critical discussion on the meaning of the planning activity.