YBM landscape architecture studio sees landscape design as a social act. The studio is committed to encourage the use of outdoor public areas, plan according to the context of each specific site and promote the activities of different people side by side, for a vital & diverse environment.
The studio is located in Binyamina, Israel, in an industrial area that faces agricultural lands. This in between context fits us well since our projects reflect a wide range of situations: from urban and dense areas in the Tel Aviv metropolis, to the rural areas in the Galilee Mountains and the Negev desert.
The studio was founded by landscape architect Yael Bar-Maor in 2008. In its first years, it was a “one person show”, working from a small atelier. The focus of the work was, from the beginning, on public and communal projects such as public playgrounds, school, community centers and public housing. Ten years and dozens of completed projects later, the studio works as a team of nine people – landscape architects and designers, with a great passion for making landscapes.
Gertz primary school is located at the bustling heart of Tel Aviv. This public school was originally built in the early 1960s according to a functionalistic design by the leading Israeli architect, Arie Sharon. In its first years the courtyard was just a sandy surface (as seen in the historic picture).
As a result of the major densification process that the city is going through in recent years, the school had to be expanded. Given the fact that the plot was limited, a new additional building was designed on pillars and with a large roof-terrace allowing the open spaces to blend with the built fabric.
The building project was a chance to re-design the whole courtyard in a manner that would meet the challenges of densification. The main objective of the landscape design was to give a notion of flow and openness despite the limited space. Thus, the different outdoor functions were arranged in a seamless, continuous layout. These include: an open classroom, playgrounds and a new sport-field.
The design focused on stimulating and encouraging informal play and social interaction through the use of colors, different floor levels and a variety of sitting areas. The courtyard is open after school hours for the benefit of the community.
Credit for project photos: Shai Epstein
Credit for historic photo: Gershon Zippor collection, Israel Architecture Archive
The task of designing a school courtyard in the Negev desert faces the landscape architect with many challenges. In a place where temperatures are extreme in both summer and winter, the only way to insure the use of the outdoor spaces, is by succeeding to create a comfortable microclimate. The partially salty soils and the fact that rainwater is scares, limit the choice of vegetation and forces the designer to find creative ways to introduce shade.
In the case of a new school designed for the Ramat Ha Negev Regional Council, there are various shaded areas. The play areas are shaded with sand-colored sails, while the walkways run through a partly covered colonnade. The waiting area for the busses that collect the students at the end of the school day was designed as a free-standing structure covered by a long stretch of fabric. The in-between spaces and marginal areas there planted with trees that are durable to the harsh soil and water conditions.
While the average annual rainfall in this area is only 90mm, floods are not rare events. The fact that a dry creek separates the school from the road, allowed for the opportunity to celebrate the area’s unique land-flow system and at the same time allow for direct and accessible entrance to the site. This was achieved designing a pedestrian bridge across the creek.
The challenges of creating a vivid landscape in the desert were met, in this project, by sensitivity to the context and local conditions.
Credit for all photos: Aviad Bar-Nes
This preschool courtyard on the Carmel Mountain, Israel, was a sandy slope prior to the construction of the project.
The main challenge of the project was designing a useful space on a sloped terrain. Given the small area of the yard and the need for a variety of uses for the benefit of the children, we adopted a NO SLOAP (Space Left Over After Planing) attitude. Thus, the slope was designed as a functional space for learning and playing. The sitting area was formed by terraces that highlight the new, artificial, topography. The upper surface became a small-scale soccer field, and the lower surface – a playground. The children can go up and down between the two using a small slide.