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ECOWEEK 2019, design, architecture, public space, workshops, students, Israel

A Small group of students makes Big Transformations at ECOWEEK 2019 in Israel

ECOWEEK as platform
This unique platform combines an intense academic and professional experience and works in the real world. An ideal platform for students of architecture and design who seek hands-on experience, activating design to solve local problems and learning to use and work with reclaimed and recycled materials. There is included a one-day conference with speakers from Israel, Germany, and Romania, and one-week of intense design workshops. The ECOWEEK workshops aim to bring students of architecture and design closer to the concepts of social and environmental sustainability and placemaking in public spaces for the use of local communities. This is achieved by bringing the community into the process and by presenting the students with a real brief, a list of available materials, and specific sites in the public space.

Seeing public space in a different way
"There are excellent hands-on workshops that take students to distant continents and communities, to learn to provide design and spatial solutions. Israeli cities are undergoing a rapid process of renewal. This, in most cases, like most process driven by the forces of the market, usually ignore people and public space. In most cases, public space is negatively affected by these processes. However, that does not mean that it cannot be fixed or improved. This is what we do at ECOWEEK: we encourage design and architecture students to learn how to see public space in a different way. To see the potential and to give solutions. Here, close at home, in Israel. Not far away," says Dr. Elias Messinas, an architect, born in Greece, who founded ECOWEEK fourteen years ago.

"In 1989, as a young student of architecture, I met architect Hassan Fathy in Cairo. It was not so easy to reach renown Masters like Fathy in those days. At our meeting he shared with me his vision that students of Architecture ought to get inspiration and professional experience, by addressing the challenges of their own neighborhood and communities. Not by imitating what they see in colorful magazines (or in Instagram nowdays). Having read Fathy’s books and inspired by his path as an architect, I was inspired by his vision. It provides a strong foundation for social and environmental sustainability and empowers young architects to be agents of change and renewal for the benefit of communities and for people’s lives. Since then, I have also met other architects who have strengthened this vision – Shigeru Ban, Francis Kéré, Kengo Kuma, the team of Rural Studio, and others. This is why I have adopted Fathy’s vision and since 2009, Fathy’s vision has been put into practice at the ECOWEEK workshops for students of architecture and design in 17 countries around the world!" he adds.

The ECOWEEK 2019 Workshops
"The workshops started as a Master Chef, where the students were asked to design with the materials available" says Arch. Braha Kunda who coordinated the logistics of the workshops, and whose HIT summer course students participated in the workshops. "It ended up as a make-over with more materials salvaged from different sources. For example, the wood came from left-over formwork wood from construction sites and other materials from the Holon Municipality storage" she adds. All Workshops were held at the Neot Shoshanim Community Center in Holon, Israel.

W1. Branding by workshop leader Arch. Braha Kunda: A group of visual communication students from HIT engaged in re-creating a more suitable logo for the Community Center.
W2. Center Outdoor Spaces by workshop leaders Arch. Till Boettger, Arch. Braha Kunda, and Arch. Iris Givoli Faiman; consultant: Arch. Ayelet Tarlovsky and Designer Ron Mero.
W.2.1. Entrance: The workshop focused on the design and construction of an installation at the entrance to the Center.
W.2.2. Fence: The students identified the fence of the Center as a lost opportunity to connect the Center to the neighborhood, expressing in a way the vision of the Center.
W.2.3. Outdoor Library: The students proposed the covered building space along the path that connects between the entrance to the Center to the backyard and sports facility, to become the outdoor community library.
W.2.4. The Green Wall: A group of students created circular pockets using nylon from bags from a construction site, with plants that are attached to the metal fence, and can grow to block the fence from sight but not block the view through the fence.
W.2.5. Outdoor seating areas: The workshop focused on three areas in the backyard of the Center, in a space that connects the entrance to both the Center and the indoor sports facility. The group identified the need to create more seating areas, suggesting alternative waiting areas throughout the space, that will also decongest the interior lobby of the Center.
W.3. Community Center Lobby Interior Design by workshop leaders Arch. Lorin Niculae and Arch. Dr. Elias Messinas; consultants Arch. Braha Kunda and Arch. Till Boettger: The purpose of this workshops was to provide design solutions for the entrance lobby and waiting areas of the Community Center, with the intention to provide a trigger for further development of ideas and even implementing selected ones.

Cooperation with: Holon Institute of Technology Faculty of Design, the Strategic Planning Department and Sustainability Department of Holon Municipality, the Hirya Environmental Educational Center, the Israel Union of Architects, the Israel Green Building Council, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Union of Romanian Architects, the Norwegian Embassy, Goethe Institute, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hildesheim, Germany.

Host: Holon Institute of Technology and included the opening of the exhibition "7 Jewish Pioneers of Modern Architecture in Romania" held at the Architects’ House in Jaffa. The exhibition was organized by the Union of Romanian Architects, the Israel Union of Architects and the Romanian Cultural Institute.

Organizing team: Architect Dr. Elias Messinas – Founding Chairman of ECOWEEK and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) and Patras University, architect Bracha Kunda – Social Designer and Senior Lecturer at HIT, and architect Iris Givoli Faiman – Environmental Consultant and Lecturer at HIT. The team was joined by architect Till Boettger – practicing architect and Professor of Design and Presentation Methodology, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim, architect Lorin Niculae – President of Arhipera Association for Participatory Architecture and Lecturer at the University of Architecture and Urbanism “Ion Mincu” in Bucharest, Roni Mero – Art Director and Visual Communications Lecturer at HIT, and Ayelet Tarlovsky – a Multidisciplinary Artist and Designer.

Learn more about ECOWEEK at: and here
Review catalogue of past ECOWEEK workshop projects (2009-2016) in cities around the world: here
Learn more and support the ECOWEEK campaign for the Mosaic of Aegina (Greece): here
To communicate with ECOWEEK and/or to  invite workshops in your school and/or city contact: ecoweekdo not copy and be happy@ecoweekdot or no

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