Safra Square

Project Name
Safra Square
Jerusalem - Israel


Safra Square is the municipality square in Jerusalem, Israel.

Safra square is home to none other than Jerusalem Municipality. Despite being spacious, ideal for accommodating large events and crowds, the square can’t seem to create a lively urban atmosphere and immerse itself in the urban renewal rapidly occurring in Yafo street.
The municipality compound at the end of Yafo street is characterized by many large open spaces with a variety of passages crossing them, both parallel and perpendicular to Yafo st. Resembling a Greek temenos, this plan makes it possible to approach and experience the municipality building from many directions, but actually disconnects the site from the sizzling life on Yafo. Two main site characteristics prevent it from bringing its full potential to fruition:
First, is the disconnection of the site from the street. Around the world, large public squares are designed as points of interest, they hold events, and become transportation hubs. Safra square is set back from the street edge and lacks dialog with it, therefore meager traffic is directed towards the square. As a result, local businesses can’t gain traction and find it difficult to survive, especially with the bustling shlomtzion hamalka street nearby.
Secondly, the redundancy of duplicate passages. For example, three axes connect Tzahal Square with the municipality. One is through Jaffa Street itself, the other over Daniel Garden, and the third through the compound. The resemblance of passages to one another creates competition among them and weakens them each.

In planning the complex, we addressed these issues using the following principles:

  1. Expansion of Yafo St. in the area near Daniel Garden, in order to include retail and artists’ workshops. The widened street is able to accommodate both pedestrian traffic, the light rail, and pleasant resting areas. Combining Daniel Garden and the axis adjacent to it with the street area eliminates the redundancy of passages and simplified the circulation. Artists’ workshops are both local and tourist attractions throughout the day, even during non-routine hours.
  2. Creation of a cultural-tourist point of interest at the entrance to the square via the model house and the visiting center, which will connect the project core to the rest of the square. The model house combines cultural functions, (the model, audio-visual shows, and a small urban museum), with cafés that face both Yafo St. and the entrance plaza. On the side facing the square itself, public seating steps create resting spots with unique views of the square, which are shaded all year long. A café located at the top of the steps feeds the area with activity throughout the day. The model is revealed to the city on the side facing Daniel Garden, where a connection is also made between the model, the garden, and the upper promenade.
  3. Reorient Safra Square by shifting the main stage, and adding two “alternative stages”, in the interest of creating a bustling urban square. The shift in the main stage emphasizes the axis leading from the City Hall to the Old City and improves the circulation scheme. In addition, reorienting the square makes room for an additional office and commercial building between the two large municipal buildings.
  4. Additional retail at the threshold of the square in order to attract passers-by, as well as additional retail in the square itself along the axis facing the Old City.
  5. Creating an additional tourist attraction in the form of a “sky promenade”, forming a strong tourist continuum between the Old City and Yafo st, thus leading many people to the square.

The implementation of these principles will reconnect the municipal complex with the city, and create a vibrant civic-democratic complex. Safra Square connects the municipal government with the residents (municipality and retail), connects tourists and locals (the model house), and provides views to both east and west of the city (upper promenade).
The renewed Safra Square is designed as an urban pause in the transition between the Old City and the New City. Unique views to both the Old City, the New City, and everyday life, in combination with the mixed program, establish a vibrant urban square with Jerusalem character. It dialogs with the past, lives in the present, and looks towards the future – or in one word “Jerusalem”.




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