Divided we rise: Politics, architecture and vertical cityscapes at opposite ends of Jerusalem

Gillad Rosen, Igal Charney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how planning, politics and architecture work together to socially produce new vertical cityscapes. Our contention is that the inception and development of high-rises are interlocked into the narrations of cities, reflecting cultural values and social cleavages, political interests and planning agendas, symbolic connotations and everyday life experiences. By using a mixed-method approach, which includes the analysis of official documents and interviews with decisionmakers, planners and observers, we examine two trajectories of tall-building development at opposite ends of Jerusalem. In Israeli West Jerusalem, the development of high-rises is part of a neo-liberal growth package that seeks to stimulate economic activity, rebrand the city and increase the city's competiveness at national and global scales while evading highly contentious religious-cultural cleavages. At the other end of the city, the construction of tall buildings in grey spaces symbolically represents a Palestinian revolt against Israeli restrictive planning and development policies, but also addresses day-to-day needs and changing preferences of the Palestinian population. Our analysis uses verticality as a representation of social relations demonstrating manipulations of power and legitimacy. In Jerusalem, planning and development of ordinary high-rises next to recently completed icons, the Bridge of Strings and the Separation Wall, epitomises a dialogue that unmistakably promotes political agendas and produces symbolic meanings. This dialogue can either support the original values and aims of urban icons or challenge them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).


  • High-rises
  • Israel/Palestine
  • Jerusalem
  • Urban icons
  • Verticality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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