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

Robert Ungar Proposal

Conservation of Water Towers as Sanctifiers of Life
Refilling the old water tower with new content


Israel's water towers were erected both in urban and rural areas in the span of the last century, parallel to the settlement process of the newly established state. The towers were usually built from concrete, in different styles according to the period they were built in. The simple modern designs are in line with the spirit of Zionism, preaching for the creation of a new world in this barren land. Thanks to their urban centricity and the inherent position in the skyline, the water towers became symbols of life, places to meet, relax and communicate.

Many of these towers now stand dry, unnoticeably disintegrating. What used to be a sign of vitality now stands as a shameful memory of useless concrete, carrying antennas or advertisement posters. Very few municipalities have realized the historic and cultural value of the water tower and renewed the structure. Most of the towers, however, haven’t been gracefully treated, if at all. Such strong social values, leading our parents and grandparents from around the world to Israel, have weakened tremendously with the prevailing lifestyle they have worked so hard to provide us. The lifestyle characterized by comfort and security in a proper living environment has a price, with widening social gaps bringing society to lose the unity our ancestors were proud of.

Promoting the conservation of Israel's water towers is an important initiative attempting to pay tribute to the local heritage, and in the same course, proclaim new grounds for higher social awareness.

The competition

This competition aims to offer a possible future for water towers in Israel. Participants are required to choose a water tower in a community anywhere in the country, and design a proposal for a public function for the tower. Building a knowledge base on the social environment is necessary in order to successfully adapt a function that can truly solve a problem. diving deep into the local environment will almost surely also provide an inspiration for a better design.

Participants must keep in mind that a successful transformation of a single water tower in an innovative manner has the potential to receive wide publicity, and eventually bring more municipalities to consider initiating similar projects.

The competition will be opened for students from all of Israel's academic institutes. Since the semester has already begun, the competition will take place during the summer vacation. Students are invited to work individually or in teams, According to their own preference. If a team is formed, it is recommended that members of different academic fields join in, in order to create a wider perspective on the local community and the related proposed design.

The structural aspect of the project is not the main issue of the competition. However, as these proposals could eventually be presented to official and professional bodies, they should be feasible, both in structural and economic aspects. But to make it clear, precise solutions to structural issues will not help a proposal which does not solve a social issue.

The identity of the participants will be kept anonymous until the winners are chosen by the jury. web registration numbers will used for identification.


Participants are expected to upload to a designated website the following documents:

1. Textual description of the issues the project aims to address, with background information on the water tower and the community. The text should also include a refinement of the concept in terms of the proposed public function and its social benefits, as well as the concept of the proposed design.

This text, saved in pdf or doc formats, should not exceed 1,000 words, and can be written as an essay, an academic paper, a short story or even a poem, as seen most suitable by the author.

2. A Design proposal is to be hand-drawn or computer-rendered, scanned and edited to a high-resolution pdf document that includes 3 sheets which will be projected to the jury. The drawings will include:

a. Graphic Documentation (sketches, photos) of the present situation of the tower and its vicinity b. Site map c. Elevations d. Sections e. Urban context f. Photos of a model of the proposal

All scaled drawings are to include a scale meter on the bottom-right corner of the sheet, and the web registration number of the proposal. The scale of the drawings is as seen fit by the participants.

3. Letter of certification from the academic institute proving participants' status as students.This letter will be kept from the jury to avoid revealing names of participnts.


Arch. Shmuel Groag, senior lecturer at the dept. of architecture, Bezalel academy, has kindly agreed to take part of this competition as an advisor. He acts as head of Jerusalem conservation workshop in Bezalel and has a long personal interest in public utilities such as water facilities, mills etc., and their relation in the context of historic heritage in the Israeli space. email:


- Yossi Klein, senior lecturer at the dept. of architecture of Bezalel, specializes in research on the Israeli space, chairman of the committee for the 20th century heritage at ICOMOS Israel. email: - Heli Rahamimoff, lecturer at the dept. of architecture of Bezalel. email:

- Senior member of faculty of architecture, Tel Aviv University - Senior member of faculty of architecture, Technion, Haifa - Member of planning dept. of Mekorot, Israel's water utility - Member of The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) - Tel-Aviv City engineer - Member of the rural planning committee

Note: due to technical reasons, jury members outside the Bezalel academy have not been contacted in order to assure their participation. Therefore their names and titles have not yet been added. Senior lecturers Arch. Shmuel Groag and Arch. Yossi Klein, who are personally acquainted with these people, re-assured that this topic is likely to draw enthusiasm. Inclusion of professional members from the water utility or planning authorities is likely to add a dimension of feasibility, and in turn create better chances that such projects might actually be promoted.


#1 will receive $1500, #2 will receive $700 and #3 will receive $300.

Upon discussing the proposals, on top of choosing the 3 winners, judges will be required to decide for each proposal, if it qualifies to be passed on the municipalities they are located in. all qualified proposals will be sent out to the municipal authorities, with the attachment of a description of the competition. If even one mayor or city engineer likes the idea and pushes it forward, that would be the biggest prize.

After announcing the winners, the department of architecture of Bezalel academy will host a conference discussing the water towers in Israel in the social and cultural aspects, and invite winners to present their projects to the audience.

2010 Timeline

April – May: - Arrangement of required content including a list of all water towers in Israel and rare historical footage known to be available through academic sources. - Designing a webpage to be uploaded prior to the announcement of the competition. - Designing information sheets to be sent out to educational institutes - Organizing a conference to be held after announcing the winners. - Assembly of a relevant bibliography on social, historical and architectural matters. - Assembly of a list of projects that could provide inspiration for participants

June 15th: Prior to the end of the semester, a public announcement will be sent through academic channels and a website will be launched, notifying students about the upcoming competition. Interested students will register for a mailing list for further information.

August 15th: Competition opens

October 1st: Submission ends

October 31th: Winners announced

Towards end of 2010: Conference dedicated to water towers, hosted by department of architecture of Bezalel academy

Additional Help and Information

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