Integrate leisure and pleasure into architectural projects
By Dorothea Shefer-Vanson
HAIFA, Israel – Hidden behind a row of buildings on one of Haifa’s main boulevards is the Munio Gitai Weinraub Museum of Architecture. Its rather dark space houses temporary exhibitions demonstrating different aspects of the constructed and open spaces in which human life takes place.
Erez Raz, who studied landscape architecture at the Technion, gathered some of the projects he has worked on in recent years, presenting them in an exhibition showcasing his varied talents and his original approach to combining interior and exterior spaces in the public life. The projects presented describe his approach to the different stages of urban life, ranging from childhood play to adolescence and sports to adult activities such as shopping and driving.
Emphasizing the importance of open spaces and being in contact with nature for human well-being, he shows how he approached projects such as the design of a new shopping center, the planning of a science park and the organization of various other projects so that the consideration of the environment and contact with nature is not omitted from the urban landscape.
Large wall posters show these projects as meeting basic human needs, as defined by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicot, who said that the individual’s mental environment is a kind of “halfway house” between reality. and the imaginary, allowing it to connect with their objective environment, and that the subjective connection with the natural world facilitates this.
It takes a lot of imagination, resourcefulness and originality to transform a mundane shopping center into a place of harmony where a mundane activity like shopping becomes a pleasant aesthetic experience and where the individual feels elevated in contact with nature. . Erez Raz appears to have achieved this in the village’s newly constructed open shopping district, at a major crossroads where Givat Olga (near Hadera) abuts one of the main roads and railways along the Israeli coast. A dedicated cycle path has been incorporated into the layout of the enclosure, and rest areas as well as a special area with activities for children have been incorporated into the design, thus catering to all segments of the family.
Even something as simple as a neighborhood basketball court presents a design challenge, and Erez Raz has managed to incorporate design elements into this seemingly simple task, using materials that blend in with the surroundings. At the same time, it has managed to create a unique space that defines the activity for which it is intended and is also defined by it, given the proximity of the site to both the sea and the mountains of Carmel.
The motto of the exhibition “Leisure and Pleasure” reflects the underlying philosophy of the designer, namely the importance of leisure activities for the mental well-being of the individual and of society as a whole, and the necessity to integrate aspects of the natural world in an urban environment.
For the record: Erez is my nephew, and I think I’m rightly proud of him.
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson is a freelance writer and editor based in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion, Israel. She can be contacted via [email protected]