Hello Haifa

RENEWING WADI SALIB THROUGH ART

RENEWING WAD SALIBOne of the main anchors of the neighborhood’s revitalization is the Piramida Art Center, a beautifully refurbished complex which will house an art gallery and 24 workshops for emerging and established artists.

The Wadi Salib neighborhood on the lower northeastern slope of the Carmel has always been a paradox and a vision of unrealized potential. Since the 50’s it has been mostly derelict and abandoned but also a neighborhood that many believed could be the next big thing. The reason for optimism always relied on its sheer beauty, a wild geography of Wadis, Ottoman structures that were just waiting to be restored and the magnificent views of the port, with its cranes and views of the bay.

When Mayor Yahav took office one of his first initiatives was to revitalize the city’s downtown. “The Wadi Salib project will unleash the city’s urban potential from its historical assets and turn the city into both a metropolitan as well as a premiere tourist destination, “ says Mayor Yahav.

One of the main anchors of the neighborhood’s revitalization is the Piramida Art Center, a beautifully refurbished complex which will house an art gallery and 24 workshops for emerging and established artists. “Due to its romantic architecture and landscapes, the neighborhood naturally appeals to the artistic soul and to the visionary, “ says Shimon Alon of the municipality who is the Director of the Art Center.

THE BEGINNING

The idea behind the Art Center is to attract talented artists who will bring energy and buzz, making the area lively both during the day and during the night thus becoming the area’s pioneers. The municipality is naturally hoping that once this happens other demographics will be attracted to invest and settle, much like how creative neighborhoods worldwide attract capital and human capital.

 

The 6-storey Art Center, designed by local architecture firm, Tav Architects took what Alon calls a falling apart dump and turned it into a modern structure with state of the art facilities that accommodates 30 artists in residency. The new structure also includes a 2-storey gallery, multiple terraces and a spectacular rooftop with panoramic views of the port and Mount Carmel.

The Center is due to open in October during the Hebrew holidays and is currently accepting submissions by emerging artists who will qualify for residency.

The city will provide 30 artists with free rent and full access to all facilities in return for a written commitment by the artists to do weekly community outreach.

Around the Art center, the city has invested significant resources to revitalize the 12,000 Sqm park based on the original Ottoman landscaping of the late 19th century.

Traditionally, the area’s biggest attraction has been its weekend-only 2nd hand market, Israel’s largest, which draws people from all over the country seeking anything from antiques to drills to rare records. As construction in the area is underway, the market has temporarily moved closer to the port. The area also has always been home to the city’s alternative nightlife with derelict Ottoman structures and old Hamams converted into modern clubs with expensive sound systems blaring electronic music for local youth.

While the neighborhood is still rugged, it doesn’t take a great visionary to step on the Art Center’s roof, look around and see the endless potential the area has.