M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentSnir Meirav
SubjectThe Israeli Square: An Architectural Idea, Place in Use,
Imagined Space - Case Study: Magen David Square
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus


The town square has always been the base for the location of public buildings and urban life - a designed urban space intended for planned activities, many of them institutional and organized, but also for the activities of everyday life.

Confronted by the claim that Tel Aviv has “no squares for people”, the municipality has recognized that the city lacks a culture of squares, both as an expression of the urban lifestyle and as a symbol of the city. Despite the fact that, as early as 1967, sixteen locations in the city were official “squares”, in reality more than a few of Tel Aviv’s urban spaces originally planned as squares - either in the traditional sense of the word or those that are only nominally square - are devoid of activity, or the activities that occur in them are different to what the planners had envisioned.

Lefebvre’s three spatial dimensions, developed in his discussion on the production of space (1991) - conceived, lived, and perceived - allow for three perspectives on the urban square: as an architectural idea, as a place in use, and as an imagined space.

This study is predicated on the argument that the discrepancy between the physical existence of squares and the sense that these squares do not exist indicates a gap between the conceived space of the planners and the decision-makers, who create squares, and the lived space of the users, through whose use and activity in the urban space squares are created. In other words, there is a disparity between planning and life. The perceived space may be the key to understanding this disparity, which derives from insufficient understanding of the square as a cultural entity.

Magen David Square in Tel Aviv is an urban space that has existed in the city since its beginnings. The metamorphoses it has undergone serve as a basis for this study, and contribute to an understanding of the essence and the development of the square - not only of the locus itself, but also of how it is imagined, constructed, and created. Understanding the essence of the town square as a cultural creation having a social function will render the architect’s practice within the urban space more aware of and sensitive to the contexts in which the square functions