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JeBe – The Jerusalem Berlin Platform for Urbanism and Theory

Jerusalem and Berlin are two cities that incorporate ultimate manifestations of current urbanism in their own specific ways. Converging and diverging in many aspects, they condense past and present, prospect and conflict, deep scars and grand attempts at reconciliation. Both cities are homes for diverse communities that have been rooted and uprooted; carrying with them stratified histories, intertwined with local and remote times and places. Both cities struggle with narratives whose traces surface occasionally, shattering habitual everyday life. In an ever-globalizing world, Berlin and Jerusalem abound in lifestyles and lifeworlds (Husserl’s Lebenswelten) embedded in their physical tissues, resembling palimpsests. As such, the cities are potentially rich laboratories, perfectly suited to the study of urbanisms with a lower-case “u”:  metamorphosing urbanisms in flow.

JeBe – The Jerusalem-Berlin Platform for Urbanism and Theory – sets out to explore public life in the spaces and places of the two cities. It adopts the position of urban design, which is defined as an ongoing, creative activity whose aim is to decipher, interpret and intervene in urban public space. Although “public space” may be understood as the entire range of social space, ranging from somewhat fixed city centers to alternative events by “counter-publics”, and from corporate commercial hotspots to publicly owned infrastructures, the Platform chooses to emphasize community-space at an intermediate scale, as interpreted and used by the community involved. The core of this approach is the conviction that juxtaposing lifeworld, i.e. the experienced space in context, with theoretical investigation, will contribute to advancing an understanding of urban-life forms, and will shed light on  practical and theoretical domains of urban design.

JeBe is a research and pedagogical platform, initiated as a collaborative effort between students and researchers from the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, I.I.T., Haifa and the Institute of Architecture, Technische Universität, Berlin. Its framework includes graduate-student architectural and urban design studios, lecture courses, applied and theoretical research, conferences and workshops, and educational visits to Berlin and Jerusalem. Faculty and students from other departments and universities are invited to participate and contribute from their own fields of knowledge. Work is undertaken in collaboration with people from local communities: social activists, artists, NGO representatives, local municipal authorities, as well as architects, planners and designers involved in local projects. Studio and research results are presented to the community and to the public at large.


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