Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Always further – Art can change the city within 72 hours

The 72 hours Urban Action in Bat Yam biennale.

Creation can transform the city in a few steps and three seconds and, overall, with a short budget.

This is what the winners of the competition organized during the urban design biennale of Bat Yam in Israel have shown in 2010. In 72 hours, with a budget of 2500 euros, the 10 participating teams had to transform a street corner, a sidewalk or a bit a of a public square to make it more beautiful, more convenient, more lively. Which means 72 hours chrono to design and build the project, including drawing the plans and purchasing the materials. 72 hours to meet a local social need or improve the urban experience. Of course, the competition was naturally meant for designers, but it was promoted as open to anyone who wanted to take a part in the action, artists, urbanists etc. Bat Yam, middle class town in the outskirts of Tel Aviv by the seaside, was the perfect place to experiment this competition. Very few people might think that this city, which is poorly connected with Tel Aviv and cut off from the sea shore by private bars and a high way, owns a beautiful architecture and a thought over urban organization.

The realizations were to remain in the city for a large period of time, contrary to what we can usually see in the design biennales, after which all the installations and innovations are destroyed. This is the reason why the mayor of Bat Yam was part of the jury, whereas Glenn Weis, the manager of public art and design for New York’s Times Square Alliance who was also part of the jury, asserted that among this kind of events that are becoming popular, Bat Yam, “more than others, has some relationship between the temporary events and potential permanent changes.”

The idea of Kerem Halbrecht, the Israeli architect who dreamed up the Urban Action, was to challenge the common perception that creating change in public space is long and difficult. If creativity and good will are there, public space can respond to changing needs in real time. This competition also wanted to play around the current privatization of the public spaces in the cities. As Halbrecht explained it, “We live in a world where more and more elements are becoming privatized, meaning that they belong to someone. I am looking to find ways to work within this reality and to allow for privately owned and publicly accessible places and services where everybody gains.”

1st Prize: "Northern Gate" by the But, Yam Team. Mission of project: "Create a public space that allows various uses at different times of the day, to establish a lively entrance to the Business District." 


One of two first prizes went to the «Northern Gate», a wooden corridor made by the BUT, YAM Team to respond to the mission to establish a lively entrance to the Business District. The spot for the mission was at the same time a car park, a meeting point for people praying in two synagogues at two ends of the square and the entrance of the Business District. Barrier for the cars and shadowed walkway for the pedestrians, this corridor structures the square, offers a dazzling perspective and creates a play of shadows both at day and night. The winning team also painted parking lines parallel to the directions of the gate, actually increasing the number of parking places and optimizing the flow of pedestrians and cars. 


1st Prize: "The Lobby" by Dasding Hofmann's Team. Mission of project: "Provide the tower’s residents with high-quality, inviting public spaces."


The other first prize went to the DASDING HOFFMAN'S Team who was given the mission to provide quality public spaces for the residents of an office tower converted into protected housing for the elderly. Function, colour and movement were their key-words: they created ingenious portable, wall-mounted benches, whereas large stripes of colored fabric hanged from the first floors of the tower provided shadow to the passers-by.



A large number of young and innovative biennales as the Bat Yam Biennale were created in the last few years. These new biennales act as a barometer for the artistic creation. The localization of the births of these biennales gives an idea of where the new creation hubs are, whereas the creative media put forward reveal the current trends in contemporary art. When Bat Yam which first edition took place in 2009 is dedicated to urban design, Soundwave reveals the latest sound innovations in San Francisco since 2004, Media city Seoul investigates digital arts since 2010, Arte Nuevo InteractivA in Mérida in Mexico gathers the innovative interactive art. Regarding more conventional contemporary art, Curitiba in Brazil, Athens, Singapore, Goteborg in Sweden, Yokohama, Moscou, Bucharest launched their own biennale within the last ten years, perhaps to assert their artistic attractiveness against the domination of a regional hub (London, Copenhagen, Rio, Hong-Kong, Tokyo,Venice...). They have to innovate in terms of marketing and art displayed in order not to merely «copy» the historical biennales. 


A contribution of HEC/Abigaïl Aron

Photos : Mor Arkadir