Bridging theory and practice: Can academia drive urban renewal in Israel


Will academia shape urban renewal solutions?

The Governmental Authority for Urban Renewal convened a landmark conference on April 8 to bridge the gap between academic discourse and policy implementation in the field of urban renewal. The aim is to foster research that facilitates sustainable engagement in the urban renewal market.

The conference brought together scholars from various academic institutions including Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, the Technion and Ben Gurion University, among others. Discussions encompassed diverse aspects of field practice, ranging from professional perspectives driving the market to post-renewal project impacts on residential environments.

A vigorous debate on social justice in urban renewal ensued during the conference, moderated by Elazar Bamberger. Dr. Rina Degani from the Geocartography Institute challenged conventional renewal approaches, advocating for a shift towards strengthening existing structures rather than “Demolition and Reconstruction” (Pinui u’Binui).

Merav Aharon Gutman of the Technion argued against the perception of apartment owners as passive victims, highlighting instances of self-empowerment within such projects.

Speakers also tackled the issue of optimal density and explored international trends and comparative research. Furthermore, they addressed the utilization of underutilized spaces like rooftops, for which a comprehensive theoretical framework is still lacking.

Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf inaugurated the conference with a resounding declaration: “Urban renewal has become a sought-after product and an essential issue that preoccupies the entire Western world. The data in Israel are positive but this is not enough; the cities that need to be renewed are in the periphery, and we will bring it there.

“A roof is a basic need for every person,” he said. “Urban renewal, with all its advantages, is not a simple process, and yet we are slowly witnessing an effective and proper transformation. Today is another opportunity for the promotion of new lines of thought and the advancement of the field.”

Governmental Authority for Urban Renewal CEO Elazar Bamberger echoed this sentiment, stating, “Our engagement in renewal is a mission, especially in these days when we aim to spread good against evil and establish construction and revival against those who seek destruction.


“The governmental authority is a young body that regulates the fastest-growing field in Israeli real estate, and we aim to wield our tools responsibly and precisely,” he said. “Today’s meeting is part of this mission, where research papers reflecting a variety of ideas and opinions will be presented. Some will address issues that frequently arise in our day-to-day activities, while others will aim to open minds to innovative directions.”