The Israeli Habitat: Exemplary Neighborhood, Dimona

The ‘Exemplary Neighborhood’ in Dimona is an experimental model neighborhood in the Negev Desert, constructed in the 1960’s by the Ministry of Housing and Construction in order to provide new and creative typologies of residential environments and housing units. When one strolls in the neighborhood and experiences the place, it is difficult to understand why the Israeli planning system has long abandoned the search for innovative models.

Driving into Dimona, the neighborhood is located easily; it is not a typical neighborhood, as it includes three distinct housing typologies and its streets are aligned diagonally to the town’s orthogonal grid. Inside the neighborhood, the pedestrian lanes, the short walking distances, the pleasant breeze and the shade from the houses and trees create a pleasant micro-climate and a distinctive atmosphere. The neighborhoods’ structure is introverted and it is disconnected from the adjacent neighborhoods and the rest of the town. This distinctive atmosphere within the neighborhood does not permeate outside, as blank walls and empty parking lots cut it off from the urban fabric but at the same time reinforce the neighborhood’s unique identity.

Since its establishment, the ‘Exemplary Neighborhood’ was considered one of Dimona’s most prestigious neighborhoods. “It was the most attractive neighborhood in Dimona, where all the hottest girls used to live” recalled Yossi, a resident. “Almost every evening, when we were young, we hung out here until the late hours of the night, or until one of the neighbors summoned the police”.

How to site:
‘Exemplary Neighborhood, Dimona’, Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design,
Tel Aviv University, Israel, May 2011