PECLAB members are involved in research and work in practice with disadvantaged communities.
In this project we develop and implement a cooperation model comprised of multi-disciplinary professionals from the PECLAB, who deal with urban planning and development, and residents of the Yam housing project in Bat Yam. The Yam housing project was chosen (in consult with the municipality) as the site for the project mainly due to the potential of its unique physical and human characteristics. The neighborhood was built in 1949 as "workers housing" for El-Al pilots. It is comprised of 21 building, each a company inc.. During the last decades the physical and social state of the neighborhood eroded. Home owners left, and most of the residents are renters. Many apartments are divided, the buildings are dilapidated, public spaces are neglected, and the planning and legal status of the site are vague. However, a group of residents approached the municipality with a request to change the neighborhood's state together.
The purpose of implementing the cooperative model is to formulate the residents' vision of their environment. The project proposes a new methodology for the community's self-planning, in which both physical and social (personal and communal) change are addressed. A special emphasis is put on empowerment processes that the residents experience during the planning process of their environment. Implementation tools include constructing a framework of regular meetings between professionals and the community, during which the projects aims and objectives will be defined, the paths for their achievement, and other tools that have not been previously used in a structured form in planning processes such as a three-fazed cognitive-mapping model; a visual arts project that will be based on the mental mapping and translate the visual and perception representations that appeared in the maps into tangible exhibits; an examination of the residents' empowerment during the planning process, as well as the social dynamics in an attempt to understand how a fruitful dialog between the community members and the professional team could be achieved, for planning an adequate living environment.
During the 2010 Biennale an open presentation is presented in the neighborhood, documenting the social and planning process and the dialog between the residents and the professional team. The presentation is built along the themes that were defined by the community and the members that serve as instructors. The Biennale is the motivating frame, allowing this project to exist in a defined time and space, but it is also a significant occasion in the cooperative planning work done by the residents, the PECLab team, the municipality, and the project will continue after the Biennale closes.
The project in Jaffa Gimel neighborhood began as an attempt to provide legal aid to impoverished residents confronted with a municipal requirement to renovate their buildings. The residents where required to pay an amount which was far beyond their reach for the renovations. The first attempts at solving the problem was done using legal tools. Once that avenue did not prevail, an alternative solution was offered – to use planning tools. TAMA 38 was suggested as an option, as it includes additional planning actors such as the private real estate sector. TAMA 38 would enable building residents to join a private entrepreneur, who would receive building rights for adding a top floor to the exsisting building in return for renovating the whole building. Lately, a private entrepreneur has expressed interest in performing the required renovations in exchange for the rights to build two additional floors. The new floors would be designated for students of the Tel-Aviv – Jaffa college situated nearby. In addition to the renovation and two new floors, an extra residential unit and porch will be added to each apartment, along with 2 elevators and garden apartments.
Current legislation requires a consensus amongst all the residents in a project of this magnitude. Each and every resident can legitimately use their power to object to the plan, or demand changes to it. The community, in this case, is a central and powerful actor to be reckoned with. During past months, significant changes have been made to the plan, in accordance with residential reservations. But this power is countered by the municipal evacuation orders looming over the residents' heads.