It is a curious coincidence that this hivelike housing complex near Jerusalem was built back in the late 1970s, at the same time the first Star Wars movie was shot. Designed by Polish-born Israeli architect Zvi Hecker, the Ramot Polin complex is a conglomerate of over 700 prefabricated dodecahedrons that look like a futuristic version of the settlements on planet Tatooine. It was an architectural experiment, a complex organized on a layout resembling a five-fingered hand. Since its construction, the complex has undergone numerous transformations in order to meet the evolving needs of its inhabitants.
The Israeli government commissioned the project in the aftermath of the Six Day War as an experiment in geometry and architectural construction. The housing complex was planned for a stop atop a hill, just outside of Jerusalem, where over 700 modular dodecahedrons were constructed with prefabricated pentagonal concrete slabs. The construction began in 1977, with a promise of a new type of social dwelling that would break the monotony of the surrounding apartment blocks.
Despite the fact that the project was innovative and avant-garde, many practical problems occurred over the years. The inhabitants had to deal with unusable interior walls, narrow balconies and problematic natural lighting, which rendered the complex unappealing to the middle class population. It was ultimately inhabited by communities that would choose to live such a long way from the city thanks to the low rent. Low income religious groups moved in and started changing the layout of their apartments, enlarging rooms and widening windows, among other alterations.
The housing complex was initially supposed to show an organic approach to designing space and take on an appearance of vernacular architecture. It managed to do so, but on a level not predicted at the time of its construction. Ramot Polin is still undergoing changes, but these are introduced by the tenants instead of the architect.