טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentGilad Shirily
SubjectPerceptions of Nature in the Landscape of Tel Aviv:
The Environmental and Planning History of the
Yarkon Park
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Tal Alon-Mozes
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the process of landscape production along the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, transforming an urban fringe into an urban park (the Yarkon Park) during the twentieth century, exposing and analyzing the concepts of nature (both hidden and overt) as they are expressed in this process.

The Yarkon Park, the largest and oldest one in Israel, has become an urban symbol and a model for Israeli parks. The park's history of planning is over seventy years old, starting with Geddes’s Tel Aviv report of 1925. The river, which in the past flowed abundantly, was used as the natural northern boundary of the city. After the state was established, the river dried up as a result of redirecting its water to irrigate the Negev. It was polluted by local authorities and the factories that were built along the river outside of the Tel Aviv area. Nevertheless, the development of the park continued and today is covers an area of about three thousand five hundred dunams (about eight hundred and sixty five acres).  

This study examines the process of landscape production of the park, by investigating three dimensions of the changes in the landscape: the actual, the planned and the imagined landscapes.

The main findings of the study are:

The history of the Yarkon Park in the 20th Century can be divided into three main periods based on the central planning concepts of the park: the park as a forest (1941-1961), the pastoral park (1961-1980) and the eclectic park (1980-2003). In each of these periods, nature was used as a tool in the hands of the urban and the planning elite, to create a borrowed and imaginary landscape which served their changing values and objectives. This utilitarian and anthropocentric approach which also included aesthetic appreciation of nature was central to the concept throughout the studied period. Designing the park as imagined nature reflects the notion of the dichotomy of nature and city, and the commodification of nature. These perceptions enabled the existence of a thriving metropolitan park on the banks of a polluted river, and the continued pollution of this river without any compelling public outcry. By the end of the nineties, as the state started restoring the river, the planners’ attitude began to change.

In the initial period the park did not meet accepted western urban planning trends because local Zionist ideology played a central role in landscape design. From the seventies on, the design of the park was influenced by planning trends used in Western Europe and the United States.

However, the Yarkon Park is unique compared to others in the western world: The Yarkon Park has been a public park since its establishment unlike large parks in European cities which were originally private parks of the local aristocracy and unlike the United States where park planning began in the second half of the 19th century motivated by the battle of the Park Movement.