Ein Karem is an ancient village in the outskirts of Jerusalem. As of today, it has a local population of 2,000 residents, mainly Israeli Jews, and attracts three million visitors a year, one-third of them christian pilgrims. The village serves as a center for art venues and galleries, restaurants, bars and hotels with many beautiful monasteries and churches coloring the landscape. It is richly layered with many levels of function and culture interwoven within the same space, simultaneously serving diverse populations with varied interests. While the village attracts large numbers of tourists, it's public spaces suffer from high neglect and discontinuity due to the requirements of motored transportation.
As a response to the current situation, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Tourism in Israel, commissioned Ollech + Tol to design and renew the public spaces of Ein Karem's village center.
Taking into account the complex nature and fragile fabric of this unique location, the design aims to connect and integrate the different landmarks and public spaces of the village center, giving spatial clarity and continuity to visitors and users. The streets and main parks are connected to create a coherent and continuous public space, blurring the boundaries between park and street while transforming the village center's spaces to pedestrian-centric areas as fit to a location with such gravitas.