Bustan Khayat at Wadi Siach,
Documentation, Public Advocacy, Consultation & Design
Client: The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel,
Haifa municipality & Drainage Authority Carmel
Location: Haifa, Israel
Bustan Khayat lays at the mouth of Wadi Siach in Hiafa, between the western Carmel Mount ridges of Cababir and Carmelia. Built in the early 20th century by the Khayats, one of Haifa's most prominent families, it was conceived and designed as a private family resort, a pied-à-terre for leisure and hosting outside the bustle of city life. It features cascading waterfalls, fountains, and pools, interconnected by a system of irrigation canals which extend throughout the 6,500 m2 walled garden. A leisurely walk down Wadi Siach, takes an hour and provide a journey through lush scenery, two water fountains, and the significant archaeological remains of the 13th century Carmelite monastery. Over the last 40+ years the Bustan is owned by the city of Haifa. During the 1970’s the artist Itzhak Danziger maintained the garden with students from the Technion, a project which continued into the 1980’s with artist Mand Micha Ullman. Today, despite having been listed on the municipal heritage registry, the Bustan is dilapidating and in need of urgent attention.
Our practice has been involved with the Bustan since 2006, in public advocacy, documentation and design. In 2008-2009 we prepared a fund-raising dossier (supported by the Sheli Foundation), in 2011 we completed a documentation report (commissioned by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel), and in 2013 we prepared the conservation chapter for plan HF-2155 for Wadi Siach (for Haifa Municipality). In in 2012-2013 we designed and produced construction documents for the conservation of the gardener’s house at the Bustan (commissioned and executed by the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel), and during 2013-2014 we consulted (for Carmel Drainage Authority) on the rehabilitation of the Wadi Siach canals and waterways. In 2016 we were among the initiators of an exhibition about Bustan Khayat at Haifa City Museum & Beit HaGefen Art Gallery, to which we contributed our graphic vision for the Bustan’s future. Ruth Liberty-Shalev is an active member of the Coalition for Bustan Khayat since 2006, and in this capacity has lead walks, directed Technion students and lectured about the Bustan in numerous conferences in Israel and abroad.