Will Jerusalem’s Coming Green Roof Help Bridge Both The New and Old Jewish Quarters?

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The Hebrew language Jerusalem news site Kol HaIr is reporting that a wealthy Jewish businessman from Canada, Ronnen Harary is set to invest millions of shekels to install a green roof on the large roof top plaza known as the Galitzia Courtyard.

While no one argues the biophilic necessity of such projects in bringing ecosystem diversity to urban areas like Jerusalem, the location of the Galitzia Courtyard means much more than just urban sustainability and development.

In recent years the courtyard has become a popular spot in the Old City due to its amazing views of the Temple Mount and its connection point between the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Quarters.

However, given the recent growth and return of Jewish families to the Old Jewish Quarter (today’s Muslim Quarter), especially to Al Khaladia street, whose entrance lies at the other end of the courtyard, the Galitzia rooftops have now begun to serve as a bridge between the New and Old Jewish Quarters.

Biophilic Design and The Stabilization of Neighborhood Contiguity

In any other city, the introduction of biophilic solutions to an urban area’s lack of organic biodiversity would be a story in of itself. However, what this rooftop project in Jerusalem shows us, is that biophilic design can achieve something much more than just an introduction of a new ecosystem within the confines of an urban setting. Galitzia’s future green roof not only enhances the already used bridge between two historic Jewish areas, but creates the needed contiguity without disturbing Muslim Arabs below. In a sense the Galitzia rooftop can be seen as both a neutral green space in the Old City but also a point in the city where both Old and New Jewish Quarters blend together.

Interestingly, because of the power of a green space to be ownerless and at the same time used as a connecting point between two urban neighborhoods, Galitzia like other green spaces can be utilized by all of the Old City residents regardless of ethnicity.

The Old City’s coming green roof has the potential to show how green spaces and other biophilic design components can be part of a broader solution in complex urban settings – even ones that involve emotionally charged issues like sovereignty and ownership.

Article by David Mark

David is Ateret Cohanim's Director of Communications. He is a long time Land of Israel Activist, writer and film maker.

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