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Redesign for Jerusalem’s Zion Square

Artist's rendering of the redesigned Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem.

Artist’s rendering of the redesigned Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem.


JERUSALEM (TPS) — Jerusalem’s Zion Square will be redesigned “to emphasize the values of tolerance, dialogue and mutual respect,” the Jerusalem Municipality announced on Sept. 13.

The renovated site will commemorate Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death at the 2015 Jerusalem Pride Parade by an Orthodox extremist.

The winning design was chosen by a judging panel that included Shira’s mother, Mika Banki.

Jerusalemite architects Maya Atidia, Maayan Tokkie-Carmel and her husband Tamir Manzur-Carmel won the $9,300 prize for their design, “Urban Forest Clearing.”

The design is meant to transform the square into a comfortable sitting space, in the shade of various trees, that can be used for gatherings, events, shows and special activities to promote connections between different populations.

“We are thrilled and moved by the panel’s decision,” 33-year-old Tamir Manzur-Carmel told Tazpit Press Service.

“We experience Zion Square on a daily basis and it was important to us to preserve its unique character while improving comfort for visitors.”

“Over the past year, dialogue circles have been held every week between different parts of Israeli society,” said Manzur-Carmel.

“Our suggestion encourages these by including group seating areas around the square.”

Zion Square, located at the intersection of Jaffa and Ben Yehuda Streets, was originally the site of Jerusalem’s first cinema, Zion Cinema, in 1912. Later, British authorities developed the area into Jerusalem’s business center, naming the area Zion Circus.

Manzur-Carmel said the design was based on a model popular in Europe, but one that has not been adapted for the Middle Eastern climate.

Over the years, Zion Square has been the site of many political demonstrations, ceremonies and Independence Day celebrations.

Many Jerusalemites mourned together in the plaza during the week after Shira Banki was murdered. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat approved the Banki family’s suggestion to incorporate the idea of tolerance into the contest for the new design.

“The purpose of the contest was to create an urban icon, with the goal of attracting visitors to the square and to the Jerusalem city center,” said Alon Speiser, CEO of Eden-the Jerusalem Center Development Company, which organized the contest.

“The renewal of the square is another step in the renewal and strengthening of the city center, which has undergone a dramatic change in recent years and is resuming its status as Jerusalem’s business and leisure center,” Barkat said.

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