Just as Tel Aviv began to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city jumped headfirst into the largest transportation infrastructure works since its inception. The simultaneous construction of three light rail lines that traverse the city, have created a big dig across Tel Aviv’s central urban streets.
It was within this context that we approached the Tel Aviv Municipality to launch ‘ResponCity’ a behavioural city lab, to assay the impact of the citywide infrastructure works on street life and offer up commensurate urban responses. We started by measuring the changes in commercial activity, pedestrian, micro-mobility and user sentiment along the streets negatively impacted by construction while working in conjunction with the LTR administrative division to identify opportunities for ameliorating spatial interventions.
Purple Sand – Ben Yehuda Street City ‘Pop Up’ is an 8,000 sqm temporary public space born out of this work; A 12 month delay in infrastructure handover between development phases along Ben Yehuda Street afforded a six block, ~9 meter wide strip on the eastern flank of the street. The first step was the temporary reclamation of the worksite on Ben Yehuda street by removing construction fencing and repaving the open construction areas with asphalt for public use; A large scale pattern of purple sand dunes, referencing the historic geography of the site was painted on the asphalt; color coding of purple hues signify the future path of the Purple LRT; the spatial branding of the purple dunes reframes the experience a city built on the sands exposed across construction sites in the city, experienced on street level and from building tops. Chairs, picnic tables, a dedicated bike path and service areas offer interim uses for walking, sitting and cycling.
Heightened accessibility and movement on the street: Visitors marked a significant improvement with the temporary cessation of construction and improvement in walking, biking and spending time on Pop Up Ben Yehuda.
Community engagement: Local pop-up events, including summer programming for kids, brought the community out for weekly street-breaks increasing visitors to the site by 233-333%.
Business Sentiment: 50% of the businesses surveyed on Ben Yehuda Pop Up are new (established within the past 1-5 years) anticipating or during the LTR works. The new/young businesses leveraged the Pop Up space to build patronage from across the community, including local frequenters of cafe’s/eateries, ceramic studios, clothing, beauty and pilates/yoga studios.
Pop Up Ben Yehuda makeshift public space, introduces color and an urban repose, ushering in a new chapter in Ben Yehuda’s emergent street life supporting the pedestrianisation and revitalisation of one of Tel Aviv’s historic mixed-use urban streets. The temporary installation’s lifespan was cut short by a Hamas rocket and debris that hit a residential building at the intersection of Ben Yehuda Street and Mendele Mokher Sfarim streets.
Design: Rebecca Sternberg, Keren Avni
Project Management: Gila Ginsberg-Hebron, Iris Bar On, Ergat Tzadok, Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality
Street Art Production: Bar Medini, Sergio Daniel Chertoff
Survey: Alona Tsirulnikov, Sharon Brand-Martin