- Building in the Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem    click here to open paper content69 kb
by    Pilzer, David | davidpi@moin.gov.il   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper discusses a plan to build in the area of the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem. Matters of comprehensive planning, cultural heritage and historic preservation need to be balanced with urban liveability in this extremely sensitive place.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, the Kotel, or the Buraq Wall, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the western foot of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount built by King Herod around 19 B.C. In 1967 an area in front of the wall was transformed into a plaza covering 20,000 square meters. This new plaza is used for worship and public gatherings and can accommodate upwards of 400,000 persons. In 1981, the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A proposed plan provides for the addition of 944 square meters to an existing building of 772 square meters on the northern side of the plaza. The new construction would provide various amenities for visitors, such as a rest area promenade, bathrooms, a police station and a cultural facility. Other intended uses are offices and changing rooms for site employees. Some of the proposed new construction would encroach upon the existing plaza and other parts would increase the height and change the northern facade of the plaza.

The location is one of the most emotionally and religiously charged places in the world, as it has ties with Jewish, Islamic and Christian heritages. It is also the most visited site in Israel. The planner must approach the Wall with the appropriate reverence and care to preserve its ''genius loci'' while also meeting the day to day needs of large numbers of pilgrims, worshipers and tourists. The overriding issue is the delicate balance between overall comprehensive planning and meeting urgent needs for public safety, amenities and site management.

The paper will discuss an attempt made at striking this balance, while considering issues of authenticity, historic preservation, cultural heritage and urban liveability.

cultural heritage, historic preservation, comprehensive planning.
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