Reinventing the Dar al-Consul
Reviving a millennium of history to serve a struggling community
Located at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dar al-Consul complex is literally layered with history – its foundations dating from Mamluk times, its arched halls once housing the Prussian Consulate, and its rooftop currently home to multiple families. But as the fortunes of the Old City have waned, trapped by political stasis and paralyzed by mass tourism, the complex and its environs have experienced sustained disinvestment and its denizens face dwindling opportunities.
With the support of UN-Habitat, the Custodia Terrae Sanctae sought a strategy to simultaneously revive an underperforming real estate asset while providing a civic amenity to the surrounding community. Adam Kucharski and OHK Consultants' Ahmed Okelly spearheaded an effort to rehabilitate the Dar al-Consul complex as a catalyzing urban rehabilitation effort, providing a template for the Custodia's extensive land holdings throughout Jerusalem.
The strategic plan introduced sustainable models of economic and urban development, enhancing mobility and investment and mobilizing the Dar al-Consul complex as a historic, civic, and commercial hub while respecting and empowering existing residents. Departing from a detailed study of the existing (and heavily constrained) economic and infrastructural context of the complex, a detailed space program, product and service design, and enterprise framework took shape, offering a highly optimized mix of complimentary functions ranging from boutique accommodation and F&B to cultural spaces and SME incubation functions. A comprehensive pedestrian mobility strategy, underpinned by an ambitious data collection and surveying methodology, optimized the movements of some 900,000 annual visitors and over 30,000 full time residents of the Old City.
To ensure the viability and sustainability of the complex, a full organizational and operational design of the complex was undertaken, including terms of reference, staffing, and job descriptions, structured around a commercial service delivery vehicle. This was supplemented by a fundraising and finance plan for the complex, identifying strategic opportunities for subsidizing and supporting non-revenue generating elements of the complex’s civic mission through alignment with donor and philanthropic priorities.