• Danielle Pardo Rabani


Updated: Apr 19

At the onset of the 2nd Millennium, the National Council for Planning & Building initiated the fortifying of apartment buildings in Israel that were erected prior to 1980, as a preventive measure against earthquakes. These apartments were built before any protocols were mandated for withstanding earthquakes. The background for this new enterprise stemmed from an evaluation carried out by the Israel Geological Institute who foresaw that a strong, high-scale earthquake could be expected to occur in Israel, that would be precipitated by tectonic activity in the area of the Afro-Syrian fault. Dr. Amud Salmon, a Senior Investigator at the Institute, said “In all probability a strong earthquake will occur here … but we have no way of anticipating when this will happen”.

In 2005, as part of a preemptive initiative to guard against this “prophesized” earthquake, the Israeli Government authorized the creation of an ambitious program called “TAMA 38” – the goal being to fortify and strengthen as many buildings as possible throughout the country, prioritizing those closest to the Afro-Syrian fault. In order to propel this fortification operation forward, the Ministries involved decided to bring private mega-building entrepreneur and contracting companies on board. The incentive being, that in return for investing in and executing the fortification and total renovation of each building, they would receive a generous percentage of additional building rights with which they could build additional floors and apartments for sale on the renovated buildings – thus not only recuperating costs but reaping quite handsome profits.

And why is it a WIN WIN situation for all involved? Because at the same time, the apartment owners not only benefit from a significantly increased property value due to the enlarged, modernized, fortified building, but their existing apartment or part of it are also renovated and modernized at the same time – at absolutely no cost whatsoever to the apartment owner. And the municipal authorities achieve the intended goal of fortifying many, many buildings – also at no cost to the municipal or Government pocket.

The 3 Options of TAMA 38:

TAMA 1 or TAMA 2 or “Pinu’i Binu’i” (meaning Vacating for Rebuilding)

In the case of TAMA 1, the building is left standing and thus dictates the limitations of the planning and design of the renovation. Although permits are mostly granted to add 1 or 2 floors to the existing structure, an elevator is often installed and the building is fortified and modernized, the architectural design is still restricted by the confines of the building itself, so it is not always possible to achieve the optimal architectural solution.

In contrast, in the TAMA 2 option, the existing building is torn down, and a completely new building erected in its stead. The architectural plans are free of any restrictions, and thus enable the best possible fulfillment of the needs and desires of both the apartment owners and the contracting company. The apartment owners are encouraged to voice their opinions and make their own requests during the planning stages, can follow and inspect the construction, and subsequently end up with a building that not just meets their requirements, but has the immense added value of a totally new latest-generation infrastructure constructed with the most up-to-date materials. The apartment owners, of necessity, need to vacate the premises until construction of the new building is completed, but the contracting company pays for all expenses involved.

The most extensive and expansive option is PINU’I BINU’I (Vacating for Rebuilding). The major difference between this and TAMA 2 is that it is not only geared towards erecting high-rise buildings in place of those torn down, but has significant urban impact – completely enhancing the skyline for an entire suburb. In “payment” for the immense profits earned by the contractor from the construction of a very large number of additional new apartments for sale, in many cases they must undertake to re-construct the whole area for the public benefit, such as erecting public parks, schools and kindergartens, communal centres and more .. In areas of historical value, the contractor is sometimes required to restore and preserve an adjacent historical building.

The economic value of these undertakings is dictated by the scope of building rights awarded by the Municipal authorities to the contracting companies. What does the history to date tell us? That thousands of new apartment buildings have been built in the big cities where soaring real estate prices reap the highest profits for the contractors and the apartment owners. But in the periphery, only a very few TAMA 38 projects have seen the light of day. Therefore, the original goal of the project – the fortifying of all old buildings in Israel – has so far missed the mark.

The Basic Premise of WIN WIN

The structure of mutual interests in the TAMA 38 projects is very simple. If it isn’t worthwhile for all – it doesn’t happen! The end result must match the expectations and interests of each of the parties involved, which necessitates complete trust between all. This unique economic model has created a previously unheard of anomaly, wherein the underlying principle is that apartment owners do not pay a penny for anything! Not for the new building itself, and do not even pay the fees to the professionals (architects etc.) who accompany them throughout the entire process and represent their interests.

My own Pivotal Role in TAMA 38

I have been appointed to be the in-house architect for the company Tama Top – who promotes TAMA 38 projects with various contractors in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas. In other cases, I am hired by apartment owners, in order to ensure the safe-guarding of their interests for the duration of the project.

We all know that in the normal course of events “the holder of the purse strings dictates the outcome”, but in the case of TAMA 38, it can’t work like that. As the architect, I am committed to honouring the interests of both the apartment owners and the contractor – as one. The architectural solution must optimize the building rights within the framework of the Planning & Building laws, create comfortable apartments as well as an attractive exterior, and most particularly, to assist and reassure the apartment owners who are often sceptical and afraid that the interests of the contractor will take precedence over their own.

The Principles that Guide me when Creating the Plan:

  • Adhering to the planning laws of the Municipality – this is the basic premise of the existence of the project

  • Utilizing the maximum amount of space for apartments, both for the apartment owners and for the contractor. (Apartment owners often wish to retain their original direction and floor. This makes them feel more confident, and more easily imagine how their “future” home will look)

  • Learning and understanding the desires of the apartment owners, while assuring a balanced and fair relationship between all

  • Achieving an overall plan based on thinking “outside of the box” that delivers the most attractive and optimal solution

The Project Stages:

I take care of the entire process, including:

  • Inspecting and judging the potential of the available plot of land and the existing building

  • Studying the various regulations to ensure maximum utilization of the building rights in the area

  • Initial planning

  • Detailed planning

  • Creating simulations

  • Submitting the request for the building permit

  • Creating the final building plans for execution by the builders

  • Supervision over the building process from start to completion

During the first stage of judging the potential and holding discussions regarding planning alternatives, I present my facts through architectural sketches (facades, sections and angles of perspective) to illustrate my ideas. This enables both the apartment owners and the contractor to visualize the various planning options, calms their fears, and aids them in choosing the option that best suits each.

Without the agreement of most apartment owners in a building, the project will not be given the “green light” to proceed. Therefore, I see as a significant part of my role, attaining the correct balance and harmony between the needs of the contractor and those of the apartment owners. In the initial stages of the project, I make a point of meeting with each apartment owners and learning about their specific desires. This helps me to design the optimal architectural solution while also building trust between the parties, which is paramount for the ultimate success of the project and satisfaction for all.