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Israeli City Transforms Bomb Shelters Into Colorful Story Parks

Holon's public bomb shelters get a vibrant makeover, inspired by children's literature, promoting social values.
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A walking tour of bomb shelters is certainly not a usual tourist activity, but then again, Holon isn’t a usual city.

This coastal municipality south of Tel Aviv was transformed in 1993 into Israel’s “Children’s City” boasting a magnificent children’s museum complex, children’s library, and other kid-friendly spaces – including about three dozen “story parks” themed to beloved children’s books.


Unfortunately, Holon’s proximity to the Gaza Strip makes public bomb shelters a necessity. But they need not look grim and uninviting.

Artist Rinat Luk Elhaik collaborated with Holon’s Security Department and Culture and Arts Department in a project to paint the city’s 23 public shelters as an extension to the story parks. Each is designed in the style of a popular work of Israeli children’s literature.


They decided to create walking tours of the painted shelters. There are three routes, each with a different degree of difficulty so that even parents with tots in strollers can take part. 


This public bomb shelter in Holon is painted to fit in with the upbeat nature of the workout apparatus in the park. Photo by Sergio Starodubtsev

QR codes on each shelter will reveal more information about the book it’s designed to evoke. Within each story and in the link to it, a certain social value will be emphasized, such as mutual respect, acceptance of difference, brotherhood, kindness and helping others.


“These days, when every drop of color can make the human heart happy and encouraged, the painting tour project proves that even a protected space can become a work of social-environmental art,” said Elhaik.

A public bomb shelter in Holon. Photo by Sergio Starodubtsev
A public bomb shelter in Holon. SERGIO STARODUBTSEV.

This bright blue bomb shelter in Holon doubles as a clubhouse for the Jesse Cohen chapter of the Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement. She said she wanted to make the shelters colorful, comforting and relaxing, perhaps even lovely enough to make people smile. 


“I create physical changes in public spaces using what is available: the budget that is available, the materials that are available and the time that is available — and a lot of imagination. Sometimes I do this with the cooperation of the community that lives there and I am very happy about the cooperation with the city of Holon and hope that the residents will find joy looking at these painted shelters.”


Produced in association with ISRAEL21c

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