M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentKon Uriel
SubjectA Menorah Etched in the Pampas
The Export of Planning Knowledge from Israel to
Argentina 1963-1970: The Test Case of
Las Pirquitas
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


This thesis is an original contribution to the body of scholarship on the export of architectural and planning knowledge from Israel to the “Third World”, via a case study of the Las Pirquitas settlement-project in northwest Argentina (1963-1969). The research entailed the location of primary resources in Israel and Argentina, as well as in-depth interviews with key figures in the project.

The integral planning of Las Pirquitas, conducted by a joint Israeli-Argentinian team, included five agricultural Moshav-like colonies and two regional centers, located near the capital of the province, San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca. The infrastructures and the hierarchy of amenities provided in each of the five colonies, and the regional centers, were to provide all of the necessary services to sustain the region and to reverse negative demographic trends. The project, the second conducted by Israel in all of the Latin America, was to serve as a model for the rest of the continent.

The case study describes the Israeli government’s (through MASHAV) unique mechanism for exporting knowledge in planning, and the various levels on which it functioned: planning, work practices, and the coordination between various organizations and authorities, both Israeli and Argentinean. The examination of the methodology of Israeli export of architectural knowledge reveals a unique pedagogical paradigm and a collaborative bi-national work process. That being said, it is important to understand MASHAV’s activity as instrumental in improving Israel-US relations and in executing plans and ideologies that the United States could not directly implement in Latin America. The Argentinian side, for its part, believed that Israel would help improve its relations with the United States. And thus a triangle of relations formed between Argentina, Israel, and the United States, in which Israel played a key role as agent.

Paradoxically, and in contrast to the democratic spirit of the planning process, the project was ultimately implemented by the military regime that took over in 1965. In the decades since the project’s planning and implementation, and with the transition back to democratic government in 1983, the fabric of Las Pirquitas has evolved into a different form of land parcelization and management. In the eyes of the professionals who took part in the project, it remains an innovative experiment, though it also entailed a degree of disappointment, as the project did not obtain its stated goals and did not spread the planning gospel that its planners believed it to entail.