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

Gillad Rosen*, Igal Charney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


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 languageAmerican English
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


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