London Square, Tel Aviv
Completion of underground parking structure and rebuilding of new park and square
Bruce Levin ,(KSM) Plaza architect, and landscape architecture
Eliav Nahlieli ,(Programa 1,) Outdoor museology-graphics and memorial
Materials and technical data:
The entire plaza and park was built on structure above a 500 car underground garage. The plaza is a window of view along HaYarkon Street which is otherwise cut off to the sea by a wall of high rise apartments and hotels built along Tel Aviv's sea frontage over the past fifty years.
The three level, 500-car structure was excavated on the site of London Square, a terraced park designed by city landscape architect Avraham Karavan and inaugurated with Mayor Yehuda Rokach in 1942. The speech by British high commissioner thanking members of the YISHUV for naming the space in honor of the citizens of London who at the time were boldly weathering the onslaught of nightly Nazi “blitz” bombing raids and acclaimed the new public space a sign of cooperation and solidarity between the Yishuv and the Mandatory Government. . This same British high commissioner was simultaneously conducting Britain's “war against Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine” Typical of the irony of this nation’s history, ships of Palmach Yam trying to smuggle Jewish refugees escaping the Nazi death camps, had to sneak thru the British naval blockades, running ashore, impounded or forced to surrender their human cargos who were sent back to Europe or interned in work camps in Cyprus and other locations. This very drama happening in plain view of London Square!
More than sixty years later, it seems, it is not easy to uncover so much recent and emotional history without acknowledging the “karma” of the place.
In the remaking of Gan London, the city of Tel Aviv and the Atarim Development Corporation were able to create badly needed parking, and a revenue generating project (parking and Café lease agreements). The open view to the sea from HaYarkon and Bograshov Streets was respected and pedestrian movement including handicap access from the city to the beach and promenade was enhanced.
Atop the parking structure, an urban park-plaza was created for the public. Even a small tot’s playground in the form of a boat seems to fill a sorely needed service in this part of town (judging by the number of parents and small children).
The “MaApilim” (blockade runners) survivors and members of Palmach Yam received a national memorial, long overdue their heroic-historic saga in the form of an outdoor museum-memorial which commemorates with understatement and without the morbidity associated with many memorials. A new café-restaurant was created giving new life to the plaza, and adding to the colorful nightlife scene along Tel Aviv’s shoreline.
Bograshov Boulevard runs east-west meeting the sea at London Plaza. From Bograshov, a series of diagonal descending ramp-paths drop down from the upper Ha-Yarkon Plaza to the central terrace. A two story café with outdoor seating to the south is balanced by the northern deck, amphitheatre and wave sculpture. Between the descending ramp-paths moving diagonally to the sea, uplifted and sloped walls commemorate the turbulent events of the holocaust and the boat people who arrived on this shoreline in the 1930s and 40s.
Concrete plaster with crushed local sandstone
Ipea hardwood, integral pavers
Caste aluminum panels
Railings and handrails:
Special hardened steel with ceramic epoxy nautical paint
Metal halide lampoliers
Fluorescent tubular lighting for display
Blue LEDS inserted into pavers for orientation.
Signage and graphics:
Photo engraved aluminum with special 3m company protective laminate.
Drip Irrigation with liquid fertilizer injected
Native First Line Israeli Coastal Plants
Planting Medium- Golan Lava-Pumice stone gradated