RAMOT POLIN: FAMILY FRIENDLY SUCCESS OR ARCHITECTURAL DISASTER?

By Juliet Goodman

(Ramot Polin, Jerusalem, Israel) — Four decades after architects designed an avant-garde public housing project for Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population , residents are calling the design a horrible mistake.

The neighborhood is called Ramot Polin.  Others call it the ‘beehive’ because of its shape.

 

Four decades after architects designed an avant-garde public housing project for Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population , residents are calling the design a horrible mistake.The neighborhood is called Ramot Polin.  Others call it the ‘beehive’ because of its shape. Designed by Polish-Israeli architect, Zvi Hecker in 1972, Ramot Polin contains over 700 units of beehive shaped apartments. While Hecker has been lauded for his ability to fit so many large families into such a small space, many of the residents say the design was simply not built practically inside. In fact, everyone who can afford to, alters as many walls as they can to have normal, straight walls.

While the families living in Ramot Polin enjoy the community they are a part of, they hate the appearance of the pentagonal apartments from the outside and find it extremely inconvenient from the inside.

Pnina Rosenbaum has lived in Ramot Polin for 25 years and started making changes after 7 years. She bought it because it was an inexpensive place to live but has straightened out the dining room and living room, since the way the walls were built are not accommodating for normal shelves and cabinets. This mother of 6 now has enough room for her whole family. Rachel Berman is another less-than-thrilled resident. She asks, “why should I have a strange house?” Berman has 4 children and bought her apartment in Ramot Polin 15 years ago, with the alterations already made, as they are very expensive to have done. She says it is “like a slide” but currently, she has a great apartment.

Penina Katz has other reasons for disliking her rented apartment. Because her family does not own it, they live with all of the “funny walls.” After living in Ramot Polin for 3 years with her husband and 2 small children, Katz noticed that this neighborhood “wasn’t built in a smart way.” The materials are bad and the many corners collect a lot of water damage.  However, “the people here are really good people and we enjoy it and it’s cheap.” Penina Katz is one of the many residents who heard the rumor that Ramot Polin as we know it might be coming to an end. She is not alone in thinking that they should just “knock it down and start over.”

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