The Twelfth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2010
Berkeley Prize 2010

Robert Ungar First Report

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Students and young architects are invited to submit design proposals for Israel's water towers in an attempt to revive their social centricity. Prizes will be granted for the best proposals.
Registration is open until Sept. 7th.
Submissions will be accepted until October 10th 2010.

Further Details:
Robert Ungar,
Dept. of Architecture, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem


Design Fellowship Progress Report, September 2010


The Berkeley Prize announcement on adopting the idea of reviving Israel's water towers was an ultimate assurance that I am not the only one who thinks this is a project worth initiating. At first I was slightly disappointed for not getting into the final stage in the essay prize, but re-thinking about it later – a national design competition is a much better choice for such a project, in order to raise public awareness and perhaps even start a change. For me, organizing such a large scale project is so far a challenging yet a very fulfilling experience.

Receiving enthusiastic responses within my school pushed it forward, and the baby was born in August, when the competition website was launched, beautifully and functionally designed by Eytan Mann and Gilad Fried of Siteunspecificweb design.

When I set out to collect historic information on the water towers, I spent time in photo archives from the 1920's-1950's, exposing myself to visual proofs for the images of splendor that these water towers had in my mind – a history of local pride, communal centricity and of social significance in each village, town or city they are in.

With help from conservation organizations who embraced the project, and mainly Shmuel Groag, who helps organizing the project on behalf of Bezalel, the academy I study in, and Tamar Tuchler from The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), we have managed to receive further funding for prizes and administrative aid in turning this competition into a national project open not only for students, but for young architects as well, in two separate categories.

Each proposal submitted by the participants will also include an architectural documentation file, summarizing information retrieved by the applicants on a chosen tower, its history, and its physical, social and cultural context. Upon completion of the competition, the website ( serve as a first-of-its-kind database on Israel's water towers for future reference and research, available for public use in a textually and geographically searchable format.

Distinguished professionals have agreed to participate in the jury – Prof. Mordechay Omer, Manager and head curator of the Tel-Aviv museum of art, Bracha Chyutin, architect, winner of the 2006 Rechter award, Tamar Tuchler, manager of Tel-Aviv district dept. and international relation dept. in SPIHS.

16 chosen works will reach the final stage and be exhibited as part of an international conference organized by the Israel committee for UNESCO, taking place in November in the Van-Leer Jerusalem Institute. A senior member of a conservation faculty in an Italian university is also expected to joining the jury as part of this conference.

From these 16 works, 3 offers by students and 3 offers by architects will win prizes, awarded in December in a professional conference hosted by Bezalel academy.

Numerous people whom I talked about on this subject, professionals as well as 'ordinary' people, responded positively in a sentimental and nostalgic manner, strengthening the belief that the disintegrating water towers we all grew up around are important landmarks, and that the way they are neglected at present is simply unacceptable.

Apart from initiating conservation and re-purpose actions to the water towers, this competition raises a deep cultural question - what are the values our society sees as worthy of reviving, and what form should they take in a vacant space at center of our communities? I am very curious to see what my generation thinks.

2 Weeks before closing the submission, over 130 individuals or groups have registered for the competition and local media and blogs dedicated articles on the subject.

Final results will be out in December.

Additional Help and Information

Are you in need of assistance? Please email
Mr. Robert Ungar, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
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