Michal Bleicher – Kugler

Masters in Architecture & Urban Planning
Tel Aviv University
Thesis Topic: Climatic aspects in the relationship between
workers' housing (public housing) courtyards and the
structures described in the Geddes Urban Plan.

Michal is a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. She is currently finishing her Masters studies at Tel Aviv University's Azrieli School of Architecture. She is writing her thesis on the climatic aspects in the relationship between workers' housing (public housing) courtyards and structures described in the Geddes Urban Plan, under the supervision of Dr. Oded Potcher, Department of Geography and Dr. Eran Neuman, Head of the Azrieli School of Architecture, TAU.

A personal perspective:
In Michal's words: "The privilege of taking part in the Azrieli Fellows Program has allowed me to delve into my research in an extensive, profound manner, with all my attention and energies fully dedicated. I have been able to invest all of my time in the  courses and research with a clear mind, free from financial concerns. In addition to the research, the generous support allowed me to attend many interesting classes outside of the standard syllabus and expand my horizons in many related and fascinating topics. For the first time in my academic life, I had as much time as I needed to spend in libraries, conferences and other related activities. The interaction with the other Azrieli Fellows, during the gatherings, conferences and other activities, was very enjoyable and beneficial." 

Social- Architectural initiative: Leading B.A. Architecture students in the renovation of the “Dov Hoz” high school in Tel-Aviv.

Background:

I was honored to take part in the volunteering commitment which is an integrative part of the fellowship program. I was given the opportunity to initiate and lead a fulfilling project, involving Tel Aviv University students of Architecture in the renovation of the “Dov Hoz” high school in Tel-Aviv. The architecture students worked with the high school pupils, who were from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds, to design and renovate the school, exposing them to the academic community and giving us the opportunity to give back to the community at large.

I am pleased to share with you an article published in A-Z News – The Azrieli Fellows program newsletter (Volume 1, 2nd issue) with more details about this wonderful experience:

During the month of May, 2011, the sophomore pupils at "Dov Hoz High School", together with students from the School of Architecture from Tel-Aviv University, were busy designing and renovating the school's class rooms. The initiative was part of a volunteer project, established by three graduate students from the Azrieli Fellows Program.

Michal Bleicher, Erez Klapper and Gili Shapira initiated the project as part of their volunteering commitment which is integral to the Azrieli scholarship. With the support of Architect Dan Price, they established  an academic program called "From Cooperation to Renovation", which allowed undergraduate  students from the David Azrieli School of Architecture to tutor high school students in the design and renovation of their own learning environment.

The first part of the course focused on theoretical and design issues related to the internal design of high school environments. Later, the university students were divided into eight teams: one team dedicated to each of the high school classes. During the semester, they led discussions with the high school pupils to establish a design concept and a consensus regarding design decisions. They involved the Dov Hoz pupils throughout the renovation process, creating 3D computerized models, budget planning, purchase and transport of all necessary materials and equipment and the actual hands-on building according to the established plans.

Dov Hoz  is a vocational high school, located in the Tel-Aviv city center. The school accommodates 180 pupils from ninth to twelfth grade. All of the pupils come from challenged socio-economic backgrounds, dividing their time between studying a trade and working outside of the school to help support their families.

In addition to the improvements in their environment and to the feeling of accomplishment accompanying it, the pupils enjoyed one more benefit: the opportunity of being exposed to academic topics and university students. The experience opened their minds to the importance and benefits of higher education and may influence them and their future choices.

The final results were refreshing. As was reported in Ha'aretz Newspaper, standard oppressive white classrooms were replaced by colorful walls decorated by wooden structures of various kinds and shapes. Each classroom was significantly different from the others and represented the vision inspired by the pupils along the process. The sense of “taking possession” of one's environment is a new experience for these children and hopefully will nurture a sense of empowerment and responsibility.

The project would not been possible without the generous support of the Azrieli Foundation.

In addition, you are welcome to read the following article, published in Haaretz:  http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1172538