The influence of Sir Colin Buchanan on the planning of Tel Aviv
Two British planners had an important influence on the city of Tel Aviv. The first, the Scottish, Sir Patrick Geddes conceived the first town plan for the city in 1925. The second, Sir Collin Buchanan, was a traffic consultant for the city’s new master plan in 1968. While the urban problems were completely different at these two periods, the two planners had a similar spatial concept. Geddes’s urban block and Buchanan environmental zone both create urban units with road hierarchy, separating through traffic and local traffic in order to improve quality of life for local residents. Both were also especially sensitive to environmental issues. Yet, while in 1925 Tel Aviv barely had any cars, in the 1960s, although far behind the automobility of the UK or the USA, Tel Aviv’s planning was exceedingly motivated by traffic infrastructure.
Tel Aviv’s eagerness to be a frontrunner of urban modernization motivated its pursuit of foreign planners. The 1968 Master Plan for Tel Aviv was composed by an Israeli architect, but as traffic was one of the main issues Buchannan was invited to consult. The plan followed Buchanan’s ideas to reshape the city according to environmental zones, closed to motorized through traffic in order to balance traffic efficiency with the creation of habitable urban environment. Each quarter was surrounded by freeways; new zones replicated the well-known image of open spaces woven with high-rises, traffic entering underground parking and pedestrian only areas set between buildings. Buchanan influence on Israeli road system did not begin with consulting the Tel Aviv plan. In 1966 he was invited by the Israeli Transport and Communications Ministry to train traffic planners and practically founded the discipline in Israel.
This paper will explore Buchanan’s method and suggestions for Tel Aviv, as well as his significance to Israeli transport planning. While Buchanan influence on international urban plans is well researched, his endeavour in Israel was not. What were Buchanan ideas for Tel Aviv’s urbanscape and city infrastructure? How did it compare with transportation schemes developed by American experts working in Tel Aviv at the same time? How did he influence Israeli debates over public and individualized modes of mobility?