« 99% Invisible

206- The White Elephant Of Tel Aviv

2016-03-29 | 🔗

Israeli buses regularly make international headlines, be it for suicide bombings, fights over gender segregation, or clashes concerning Shabbat schedules. One particular ill-fated megastructure, however, has been at the nexus of various lesser-publicized conflicts: a building in Tel Aviv designed … Continue reading →

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety: nine percent, invisible, I'm roman moors. By all accounts. If you ve ever taken a bus to or from TEL Aviv New Central bus station, you ve never forgotten The experience it's one of the most bizarre and magical and disgusting an enchanting places you can imagine. This is monsieur Harmon of Radio Show and POD cast Israel story. Talking about the unforgettable ramshackle massive bus station, known as the city under a roof, Dirty and smelly and feels depressing deserted, but at the same time its key their fallen full of life, the station, houses, benders foreign workers and refugees from all over the world Filipinos lotteries. Sudan. Eritrea, Jan Local Zillion, on the fourth floor,
and what's called Manila Avenue. You can stuff yourself with homemade pan fry loop here that filipino caregivers cell on their day off. If you turned the corner an old timer. My drag you into the midst. The feed synagogue, after which you can me underpass, pass tattoo parlors churches, the free STD clinic eritrean brides, getting their hair braided. These really filipino matchmaking agency, Fringe theatre spaces and at a giant Yiddish Book Library, twenty years until the year two thousand ten tell needs new central bus station was the largest in the world. This is in the city whose population just barely reached four hundred thousand people during this time, the station is dizzying, in fact, its own impossible not to get lost their all attend. Designing proper way finding have failed miserably, but Probably most interesting about the new central bus station in TEL Aviv is that it's sort of layered fossil of the history of Israel. If archeologists work
excavate through the layers, they'd pine remnants of every phase in the short story of this state from independence through postwar you, for you to recession in western musician they'd, be able to traced the waves of immigration to Israel from Europe and North Africa. So in many ways, The story of TEL Aviv New central bus station is the story of Israel and story of Israel as told through this bus station is going to be told to us by you metal. From the brilliant radio programme, Israel story. You never any the hammer sooner there is no single thing I like about this station. Everything here is worthless, me I'm here, because I have no other choice before then. That's Ellen bought a store in TEL Aviv New Central bus station in the early nineties, even before it opened, dreamt of eventually passing it on to his children can
if necessary in China when I bought it is an investment in twenty years ago now, stuck here What happens? I'm stuck by taxes, utility bills, office feasible the hand as it is ruined me. You store, has been closed for years. Because no one hangs out anymore at the far end of the fourth floor, where huge supermarket used to stand and There's just one of hundreds of vendors who pay good money to purchase the store here and who are today stuck with the property. That's worth abso nothing I met in London. A section of the station called that I'm laud market on the third floor He was moonlighting selling baby close to eritrean refugees. Friends stop trying to make up for lost income from his out of business.
Most of the stalls around him are abandoned. Old newspapers are glued to the display windows of nearby storefront. If you close, you can make out headlines about the two thousand and three Colombia space shuttle disaster or to disengage. From Gaza in two thousand and five. Ceilings are covered with black set forth, peddlers anxiously smoke, cigarettes, swayed underneath and behold sign that says no Ok and the smell of nicotine blends into the stench of urine swept him diesel fuels. What can I say. Depressing to hang out with the vendors of the dynamic as a definition of a new central bus station the structure itself is terribly confusing and that's no coincidence it was designed to meet people get lost the lab It was coined by the stations chief architect, I'm coming in
in the labelling you get lost. You know how you get in, but you have no idea how you get out, or even if you get out that swifter com, I'm an architect, and I'm the widow of fail on call me. But I'm. We always said that the good city is a city. You'll get lost in, and the imagined central bus station is a city and aloof. So if it is city and the wolf, why shouldn't we get a little bit lost in? So in order to help me get lost in in I don't know, the more organised fashion. I teamed up an energetic architectural dual high. Entirely on the my name is allowed the horn, I'm an architect for Germany's early architect as well and I'm cool we must, as students at the Architectural Association in London I just graduated from- must have school of design in Harvard, and I've been
investigating researching the essential bus station. Until we tell ya for many years now, the research the central bus station started when we had to reorganise I'm com archive and wild. Two loads of dusty documents and plans. We found amazing materials dated from the Sixtys and Seventys about the central bus station. We We need a station pretty well. Even before We knew what everybody thinks about the station. How complicated building is Then we saw these these drawings and there were like really beautiful. Actually, the drawings are indeed beautiful, but their sweeping lines and huge glass skylights. But few people see much beauty in the building as it stands today. The lion and allowed are exceptions. It's really hard to describe it without getting lost in these weird dark,
is where you really don't have anybody around you? Almost half of it is underneath the street level, so it is dark, really dark, actually and air in a way. It's like a dark, amusement park, your actually afraid on one hand and, on the other hand, having like the most exciting environment, around you with people from all around the world super collar full. I would it's a multi, sensual place. It allows almost anything or everything to happen in its biggest western that we asked us. If is what ran prong? Actually, so we go there in triumph. The dancer for that. They took me around this magical. Multi sensual dark amusement park of theirs at some point Let me down to the abandoned first floor, then up a narrow, rampant through a creaky side door around and realized. We are in the lobby of a deserted movie.
So are actually fifty It is below ground level. Here in what was the grand cinema, there were six movie? Theater is here with amazing names like John Wayne Everest Dandy, even though it's been more than fifteen years since the credits rolled on the last movie played the theatres are still in great shape. The walls are covered with posters and films like pop fiction titanic. The acoustics remain excellent and the cushions of the red velvet seats still pretty comfy. This forgotten glamour is testimony to the big hopes the station embodied in its early days. The planters original idea was that passengers would pop in catch a movie as they waited for the bus, but that never happen and the cinema close down just a few years after it opened today. As you can see, it's completely abandoned net. That's a time stood still here.
The new central bus station opened its doors to the public in the summer of ninety. Ninety three, after nearly three decades of planning, it was shiny, new, exciting, but then in a few short years. It became the grinding his place in town. So how does a place go from such splendor of such neglect, social, period shown. What about a architect, writer, publisher and teacher who live right near the station three hundred meters. Thinks that, in order to answer this question, we need to go all the way back to the days before the establishment of Israel in nineteen. Forty eight oh, should talk about demand. Central bus station was built on and is then began to Arabs. Jeff I used to be an Orange grove, a bum of grew up on the outskirts of that growth. He remembers it. Well, I shall my
But this should, of course it was called. Its growth we used to sneak in underneath the fan. Still some oranges and then runaway rubber humanism, followed the war of independence. Most of these, such as groves in the area between job fine TEL Aviv, were abandoned, slashed deserted, Slash confiscated, depending on your political point of view. In any event, the state took over the land Jews started moving. It enhances his homestead exactly where the new central bus station is situated today, a bite by new heard my house was a special house right on the corner, Levinsky Street Second house from the corner. On the second floor, there was this big, more Chad, a mural. Sea, of Galilee with fishermen fishing zone. My No Mo Lomas was really something to favour pewter for her
the boy how my shoe initially the governor wanted to expand a nearby neighbourhood by the name of Nevada, none, but as always, The plans were delayed installed till they were forgotten altogether. So, instead of a brand new residential neighbourhood, favela sorts started to develop their islam of tents, sheds and warehouses. Meanwhile, her part of town lived a man called. Are you see he was an immigrant coming from Poland in the thirties and he opened up cafe. Fields which was we famous coffee shop on the sea side of the cafe fields. Was this winkies joint in town Senor british officers came to relax dry, martinis elegant way. In long tales and a boat. I would block around serving cock over state grenades and an orchestra played the latest. It's in the background.
And, as you these days sitting in his cafe smoking, his cigars pills couldn't help What is the construction friendly going on all around it? Even birthday life by now. This is a promotional than others from the late hundred thousand people who live in our town every day about you let me cite habitable, however, the centre of industry. Once I saw to have New York. While TEL Aviv is, the same apart from the fact, of course, that we haven't got skyscrapers yet Dana Vive was humming and builds a tireless entrepreneurs spotted real estate opportunities everywhere, so we pay the old Orange Rove turn slum from the jewish national.
But then there is the problem of the squatters. Like us, they'll see gear built showed up and what it is. Two of them actually, he bought them all out, brought in tractors and raise the sheds to create one giant plot of land. The location wasn't I deal across the street was Nevada, none at densely populated low income, neighbourhood and in them of innovation and stood televisions, mean bus station, the old central bus station every day. Dozens and dozens of buses. Zigzag through the neighborhoods narrow streets and, as often happens, this contributed to the areas decline into a hub of crime and poverty. It was clear to the municipal planners that something wasn't working. They wanted to move station to another place, while they renovate and open up the old one, so pills
really clever, guy just came up did in his and told them wait a minute. Why would you move the bus station and then being back just keep it where it is? Well, I will build you a new one and pills had big dreams. He was going to finance the building of the new bus station by making it part of a huge mall it was meant to be the largest bus station in the world when it was conceived. Israel is still a small country with a population of just over two million so as you might imagine, lots of people thought the idea was absolutely insane, but pillows charismatic and even more importantly, he knew all the right people, so he managed to persuade the folks at City Hall and with their approval. He approached a thirty three year old architect, but I'm and said.
Let me give me a central bus station from proposal was relatively simple behaviour the decision, so eleven would be similar to a train station in the sense that the buses with fast right through it, on top of that they would then apartments hotels, offices and in the centre there would be a big part which would actually sit on the stations roof. From there on it only went down here. He quickly issues arose with commies plan egg said done. The two rival bus companies who had become stakeholders in the process, where a furious when they realise that would have to share floor, not a problem said the developers will pay
The bus companies on separate levels, carving out a brilliant idea, dividing the transportation between the first and the sixth floor, the Dun city buses would stop on the first floor and a goods intercity buses would leave from a platform. All the way up on the sixth floor so passengers transferring from one to the other would have to go through the entire building and would say good money in the mall shops seem logical at this time. The idea of building a huge structure, a mega structure was very trendy at the time and I'm coming imported. This idea to Israel pills. In time understood that the project was going to be much more expensive than he originally expected. So he said we need most spaces, which we can say and so every subsequent design calmly submitted. The station grew bigger and bigger by the six. Draft handed in November. Nineteen sixty seven, the blueprint, started to resemble that behemoth. We know today, in fact,
Remember me talking about the central bus station and say Did they wanted to build? The largest situation in the world and they kept one. Why would anyone want to build a largest central? station in such a small country. But this is exactly what happened In the end, the new central bus station was designed to include eight floors for a total of two hundred and thirty square metres or fifty's, the acres, which is more or less to Empire state billings together by the time you god I was building permits in order architectural styles around the world had begun to change new wisdom had it few small scale, public transportation hubs were more efficient than one gigantic station, and besides there weren't examples to conclude that mega structures rarely fun the way they were originally intended to. On top of all that pills had other problems.
He had bought out all the squatters, but the residents in the adjacent streets were alive it even though the Neighbourhood had never been particularly nicer. Upscale. They were concerned new station and all the increased bus traffic would depreciate the value of their apartments. Even more. End up living in a cloud of smoke and fumes and, as it turns out, they were right, This is surely a cash it. A resident of the neighborhood. Can you agent what it feels like to wake up to the two. These tariffs rattling noise in I, wake up in these noise. Doesn't stop you seated home. We want to watch tv and you can't hear it you want to talk with the family. You can't talk a deafening noise beside that we have to. We had to shut the balconies, because the people go buy in the buses can practically see. What's going on
inside our houses, doping Ella there than later someone knock on the door. I can't hear it it's awful. What can I tell you I have received running? Rodger Bell Noise, all the time that seemed kind of see who still lives directly across from one of the bus exits. He was one of the residents who to complain to peanuts well, you can judge for yourself. This is a record living window at ten p M, Inline sander new central bus station should never been built in the first place absolutely out, but peace was determined and on December fourteen nineteen sixty seven six months after Israel tripled its size in the six day war, the Minister of Transportation, the mayor of TEL Aviv and many other dignitaries.
Gathered at the edge of the old orange grow and laid down the cornerstone for colonies creation and went now felt like a huge country. A huge station seem fitting The hubris of building the world's largest bus station was in line with the general sense of post war. You for in the months that followed hundreds of workers, Doug Foundations, laid rebar, affording concrete, drilled and hammer and all the while residents demonstrated outside meantime was ready to move on to the second stage of his plan. You needed to sell the vast commercial space he was building so invited. I'm all over the world to come on and see
and get a free tour in Israel on him sort of like birthright before birthright, and, of course, the grand finale of the trip would be a visit to the new centred bus station built as new projects with the expectations that the visitors with by a shop in the station paints hope to tap into the overflowing sign the sentiments that followed the six day. War and, amazingly, he succeeded, hundreds of people bought shops, some of them took out loans and others like Malcolm smoke from France, sold their houses and made earlier Gotham Sean Doolittle Ferret were promised a magnificent shop in a shopping center The whole world would take pride in others like pink us, whose house, with the painting of the sea of Galilee, was demolished to make way for the station were given shops as some sort of compensation. You won't be arranged. I met their luggage. Forty two meters in the central bus station. They said the shop would be something something good We also learned its imported
to bear in mind that pins, didn't least those shops as a mall developer, would today he sold them is property the is registered the acid under their own names just like buying an apartment. Over the next six years has been sold more and more of his stores on paper, the man, the building started taking shape. People were excited about it. Every few months there would be a headline in the papers. Something like a city under a roof is coming to life or the world's most high tech bus station. Due to open but then in nineteen seventy three came: they young people, war and with it general nation wide recession he caught Levinsky, the contracting company pizza, set up to Milton Bankroll the project started faltering. There was a shortage of concrete problems with the workers unions. Growing debt. Finally, in nineteen, seventy six patents filed for bankruptcy in the construction stopped altogether.
By that time, the structure was already mostly been a huge, concrete skeleton in the middle of though he was grandma and as all remember this place, is the city's big white elephant now, a saga of who should take responsibility for the fiasco, erupted: Public Commission, were established, but the blame game went on and on and so for twelve years miserable station as peace himself called it remain empty, are almost a huge colony of bats made the building their home gradually to thirty two hostile sort of marginal part of society, family guy, some not so much by the early eighties. The station had already gained as uterus reputation had served as an underground meeting.
Huge. Raising rock and metal concerts took place in nineteen eighty three after a decade of neglect, inhabited only by Batson Punks. It finally seen the station was going to be redeemed, tractor modify Yonah about the project from its creditors. For a bargain price of five million dollars Once again, you could hear the hustle and bustle of construction work in the empty, concrete show Yonah like it. Its predecessor appeals, knew the right people like that Minister of Transportation, will shake itself. When cats I visited the site just a few months before was supposed open to the public. He said that let That is why I am certainly pleasantly surprised and we, of course, will be happy to help you in any
to overcome bureaucratic obstinacy of the foreign debt as a matter of Alaska withdrawing. What gets I was happy about was that Yonah was delivering. The station was set to open, more or less on schedule. Most of the real estate had already been salt back in the pills days so in order to make this financially viable, Yonah had to build more and more and more. The huge station like the very hungry caterpillar, just who and grew, but no, you lemme beakerful me much immortality. V, not total built up areas. The station is more than double the area that was authorized. That's visual lawyer, who represents many of the original shop owners and longstanding class actions suit against the station, he's The continuing fight, his father, also alike, started with one another stuffy mission high slot on that tens of thousands of square metres that were built illegally without building permits or even organized plants, and they
Also saw two people and a theme achieve shall befall us anything from them There is really nothing to do about that. So what you are saying is that the new central bus station is low. Just construction violation in the city by Alice in the country Gotcha, however, promised to remove bureaucratic up, and he kept his word Edward, Housing brochures in and radio campaigns urge the public to buy shop, the country's biggest commercial centres on its way. They said, don't let it start without an understanding and again people who seem to have forgotten the heartache of the stations first incarnation lined up to buy a store from yonder in this One thousand ninety three, twenty nine years after the ambitious architect, I'm coming put pencil to paper all the usual dignity
he's reconvened at the station, Prime Minister, copying was there, as was the transportation minister, the finance minister, the mayor of TEL Aviv and given commune What was the only time he ever visited the billion. While it was working in a rare moment of self deprecating, humor deed, opening ceremony raise, kicked off by releasing giant helium below in the shape of a white elephant, but not everyone was amused here again is Schuller kiss it one of the stations unhappy neighbours, time they were celebrating inside, we were standing outside in a big demonstration of thousands of people, thousands of people everywhere, standing then demonstrating at the foot of the centre Bus station of these terrible monster that is destroying lives until today, but the man her residence residents. Protest was largely ignored, while
olive Israel heard about the grand opening that evening national tv, the hammock the other substantive, even if the Holocaust people of Thirty years after police had first set his eyes on the plot the new central bus station in TEL Aviv was now up and running. It's been open ever since, but it's far from the past shopping It was meant to be There's a certain temptation to view those first years as the years when things were still working, but honestly things never really worked here you'll never managed, sell all the new stores he had built. So many of them stood vacant. Many of the ones that were open, especially stores located enough far corners of this vast labyrinth, were barely getting any for traffic. You can unjust, Then why the vendors don't have many good words to say about this place. This in TAT are not good working methods.
Cynthia. Had I'm not guess what do they get a burn. This place was nothing here. It's got to run a shoemaker, more wife and a cemetery. The very much knocking nibble was now in months gone Andrew Thou article must surely no aircraft nothing. It's nothing interesting show much. Look at my Kashmir, no money come loose and for that matter you can't make a living here. No work, no, nothing I'm! Just didn't hear passing the time. I preferred the work in another place than inside here in TEL Aviv Central. Station and we can go on like this. Believe me, were not short on this kind of tape in two thousand and two ground floor was closed for good reason, excessive air pollution that
that done, the municipal bus company moved up to the sixth and seventh floors right next to exit the national bus carrier. So now, with all the platforms located on the top floors, the entire concept of the station people will trickled down through the shops on their way from one bus to the other was gone. The lower floors of the station became ghost floors and before long, just like us, predecessor fields mow the hyena filed for bankruptcy since and the station is fallen. Deepen debt there are real. They billionaires and banks passing how potatoes from one to the other store owners suing in court and in the of all of this is Mickey's. If the station general manager, who is doing his best to run the place? He's tried all kinds of creative solutions: cheap rates for artist, studios, cultural events, comfort, says, but it seems as if the station is just getting emptier and emptier
we have here want five hundred discourse, but only six hundred away open because The building is so huge that are not necessarily at first, the planners thought that up to a million people a day would. Passed through the station nowadays ever age, fifty thousand people are coming is going down. Fifty thousand p. That's just five percent of the original estimate, maybe since the root of the problem, the developers greed, them to sell more and more commercial spaces which, in turn the station size out of proportion or maybe it's this location, location, location and putting the station in the poor neighbourhoods of southern TEL Aviv. Sealed its fate are Perhaps it was simple shortsightedness in an acting so
these. There are only twenty four thousand private vehicles and all of Israel and everybody use public transportation who knew then this number would increase more than a hundredfold reach. The two point: five million cars that crowd our roads today, when peaks and call me it up the project they imagined city under a roof and when said and done. It does kind of have that vibe. Here's tell ya the architect in a way. The fact, issuing it's called a city under the roof. Is it all in a city of got everything you ve got the dark spaces? You ve got the lid spaces. You ve got the inn the sting bits you have, the scary beat you have the exciting bits and all of it just exists. There coexist there in a way, despite the gloominess all around so
times you get. The feeling you can spend your whole life in here is a post office. Grocery shop travel agencies. You can find a dentist clinic. Lawyers churches, my care, shoes, clothes. Studios kinda guy, then there is an atomic bomb, shelter and sin So the whole world in here right under that gives those it just a shame that nobody bothers to pick up the stone and take a look beneath it. More than fifty years of since the idea for the central bus station was born in the creative minds of all Europeans can start. Take shape on rum colonies, drawing board ever since people have been trying to figure out what to do with it. Here's shown what about the architect again, I can certainly see how, in the past ten fifteen years, the use of the station is decreasing.
So closing trade is deteriorating and gradually causing the two asian or the neighbourhood around here skaters no worry a winner everybody's, a loser, the architect of day of this bidding them call me as being be despised for this project and its effects. Sir Gareth Video The residents of the neighborhood around it You know this in Hebrew: Evan, Shell, fish, like labelling, Gama, humming, LU, LU, not feel tat, Huzza each means, A fool me throwing to avert a stone which a hundred wise men cannot pull out. Lift your car Iran's widow is a bit more optimistic. I bid, if the story of the central bus station is not overly, it brings us, for his part, is desperate But when small implausible, I'm over eighty years old today, but my desire,
they used to be on. I had the will to deal with them nowadays. I have no energy, He lay hold their many parallels between the story of the a central bus station and the tyres, zionist projects, entrepreneurship, creating facts on the ground, the patchwork system, gradual move towards privatisation and capitalism in the states case. It worked pretty well, but not so with essential bus station, at least not so far. But who knows? Maybe the stations good days delay ahead, the grandchildren of Ellen Pink Us Mark and many more. Will end up inheriting a shop in the Soho of TEL Aviv for now plough history. Bates whether the new central bus station is stone thrown by a fool for us, Dracula. Human monument, many people that we would rather forget turned this strange, confusing place into
money for me money am, I But that's reporter. Your high tom brings real story with production from Katy Parliament edited and produced by your high metal, Missus Harmon Andrews, Superman, Israel story is a great new podcast from Pierre acts in tablet magazine toasted by Mister Harmon. We heard at the top the show a lot of people. Including IRA Glass, call it the israeli this american life. They specialise in telling human stories from Jews and Arabs secular religious people from one what's fascinating places on earth you can buy in all their episodes every place that you get podcast and on their website, Israel, Red dot org
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.