Summer has come to an end here in Los Angeles. Despite the unabated high temperatures, the days are becoming shorter. Gardeners are already planning the transition from the growing cycle of warm weather into the cooler autumn months in preparation to plant next year’s bounty. Vacation season has come to a close too, with students returning to school. In recognition of this seasonal transition, we’ll be focusing on a Back-to-School theme for September, specifically one from the perspective of the landscape architecture education and profession. We hope you’ll learn something from their lessons.
About 30 years, from the early 60s into early 90s, downtown Haifa was the vibrant center of the city. Back then, the Architecture school of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology was located in downtown and responsible for the annual Jewish Carnival (“Purim” פורים in Hebrew, the Jewish version of Halloween). The event was known as Archi-Parchi-Tura, and every year the architecture students of the Technion participated in special classes and workshops where they’d build art installations over cars and floats in celebration of the holiday event.
On the day of the Carnival, thousands of people would our to celebrate and watch these decorated cars drive across the streets of downtown. The Carnival was well known across the country, and became the biggest event in Israel during the holiday. However, by the early 90s, downtown Haifa had become neglected and dangerous. The architecture school eventually was moved to a suburban area of the city, and with this move, brought the end of Archi-Parchi-Tura.
When I was in my second year in landscape architecture school in 2011, a new wind of activism began blowing around the world, including across Israel. There were many new activist movements, including urbanism movements that arose from the big cities within Israel. It was during this atmosphere of activism that my roommate and studio member came up with the idea of reviving Archi-Parchi-Tura in the very same streets it used to happen twenty years ago.
I have to admit I wasn’t very optimistic about this plan. I was sure that no one would permit us do it, that funds would be impossible to organize, and the chances of the celebration being allowed to happen again in downtown unlikely. Surprisingly the city was very receptive, alongside some professors from the Technicon who still remembered the annual event from their own days as students.
After about a month into this project our numbers had grown already to a group of 20 people managing more than 150 volunteers from the architecture and landscape architecture schools. By then, many other groups of artist and other design schools studios decided to join us. We were divided into groups of about 20 students, and every group was responsible for one truck to decorate. The concept was to create designs representing the city of Haifa and architecture. My group took a humorous angle of a monumental granary and the masses of birds that can be seen flying around it daily (shown above).
In the end, the event turned out to be a great success. Many people came to witness and participate in the celebration with us, coming from all over the country. Former students came back with their children and grandchildren. The art installation wasn’t very professional or too impressive, but the atmosphere definitely honored the history of downtown. It was amazing to witness this idea turn into a reality in only a few month. Reviving Archi-Parchi-Tura turned into an unforgettable experience for all of us – one marked by the impressive teamwork of all those who came together to make it happen. We revived a historic event for downtown Haifa, a celebration which continues annually today.