While many in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv start the weekend at a sidewalk cafe, there is a small group of visitors walking the streets in search of Bauhaus buildings. Today Tel Aviv is a leading repository of the modernist style that celebrates its 100th year in 2019. Bauhaus and…
On April 1, one hundred years ago, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus school of design in Weimar, central Germany. It lasted a mere 14 years — exactly the same time as the Weimar Republic. In 1933, the Nazis destroyed both. Short life or not, Bauhaus opened up a modern way of thinking about…
The Bauhaus school of design turns 100 in 2019. The style, recognisable for its flat roofs, white or glass-skinned walls and boldly modern details, has influenced skyscrapers, typefaces and most things in between.
Architect Nitza Smok’s study led to UNESCO’s proclamation of Tel Aviv as a World Heritage Site but she wishes she had marked more buildings for preservation.
The demolishing of the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv a week ago reignited the argument about preservation of monuments and the demolishing of public buildings in Israel, especially in Tel Aviv.
Architect Nitza Smok, who assembled the preservation team at the Tel Aviv municipality engineering administration in the early 1990s, conducted the first comprehensive survey of buildings for preservation in the city, and initiated and promoted the city’s statutory preservation program, admits that in retrospect she would have put many more buildings on the preservation list.
“Had I prepared the list today, there would be twice as many,” she says. “For example, I didn’t include the Bialik school (located at the corner of Levinsky Street and Har Zion Street, it was demolished a decade ago), because I never imagined that anyone would demolish it. They demolished it because they thought that it would cost too much to fix the concrete, so they lost a valuable property.”
Today the White City in Tel Aviv, Israel is considered to be most extensive remnant of Bauhaus architecture. The multi-block city section is so distinctive that UNESCO has designated the whole area to be a World Heritage Site. Today, many of the buildings house urban residents, while upscale stores, coffee shops and boutiques are often found at street level.
A Brief History of Tel Aviv
Before 1900, the coastal city of Tel Aviv in modern day Israel did not exist. At that time the area, that currently houses the Israeli capital was nothing more than a large tract of undeveloped land, situated just outside the ancient port and walled city of Jaffa.
All of this changed in April 1909, when several dozen families gathered on a large parcel of arid land, sitting adjacent to the Mediterranean. Through a lottery system of sea shells, each family received a plot of land, where they could build a home and become part of a new and growing town.
We continue apace from Masada and the Dead Sea for an extended jaunt bound for Tiberias, a historical resort town on the Sea of Galilee and one of Israel’s four holy cities.
We drive through a Palestinian town in the West Bank in the Jordan Valley on the way to the Sea of Galilee. Not much to see here, but we sure get a sense of the disparity between this disputed area and other parts of Israel. Much of the first part of the drive is spent gazing at the mountains of Jordan, rising from the banks of the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley.
In the Jordan Valley, an electrified fence equipped with motion sensors separates the actual border from the road in the form of a No Man’s Land. Trespassers will be stopped or worse. Though Jordan is one of two of Israel’s neighbors actually to recognize Israel (the other being Egypt), there is no love lost between most of the general public of these countries.
Laura Francis explores the distinctive International Style of Tel Aviv’s UNESCO-protected White City, reputed to be the only ‘Bauhaus city’ in the world.
Tel Aviv is a city flushed with youth. Perched on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and barely a century old, it is renowned for it’s long beach, its nocturnal party scene, and its religious and sexual tolerance. When I visited for the first time this September, I was overwhelmed by the incongruously Western atmosphere of the city, its familiarity – more a sunny outpost of Barcelona or San Francisco than a gateway to the Holy Land.
It’s a feeling that’s enhanced by the prominence of modernist, and distinctly European, architecture.
The residential tower features a unique screened façade.
Tel Aviv has a new architectural marvel. Today, Richard Meier & Partners officially completed its Rothschild Tower, a modern residence with deep aesthetic ties to its city’s history and vernacular architecture. Set along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv’s White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building fits in seamlessly with the approximately 4,000 Bauhaus-era buildings that give the city the record for the largest concentrations of Bauhaus buildings in the world. “The great thing about the site is that it’s related to the whole city; it’s related to all of the wonderful buildings of the 1930s and to the historic buildings of Rothschild Boulevard,” said Meier in a statement. “It makes me very happy to be in such company.”
Great cities often embody a special blend of characteristics, from food and culture to retail and park space.
The best are their own unique, global brands that feature a distinct look, feel and promise. But most often, it’s a city’s landmarks and unique architecture that make the strongest first impression.
One can’t think of Barcelona without imagining the sweeping curves of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces, from La Sagrada Família to La Pedrera.
Miami conjures images of Ocean Drive, lined with Art Deco-inspired hotels in bright yellow, pink and blue. And flying over Tel Aviv, the first thing we see is the iconic “White City” skyline, a sea of Bauhaus-style buildings recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei once said, “Architecture is the very mirror of life.”
Tel Aviv is perhaps best known for its nightlife and as the most cosmopolitan city in a country that is often mired in conflict, but it is also home to the highest number of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world. A Unesco-designated World Heritage Site, its White City district is home to over 4,000 listed buildings and makes a good spot from which to commence an exploration of the country’s often surprising design and architectural heritage.
The Bauhaus style was brought to Israel in the 1930s by German-Jewish architects, alumni of the Staatliches Bauhaus school of art, and was characterised by the prioritisation of function over aesthetics and the use of inexpensive materials, which was ideal for the emerging city. Some of the best examples of Bauhaus and other historic styles are found on Bialik Street, Tel Aviv’s most picturesque avenue.
Conde Naste Traveller have recently revealed their top 20 cities in the world for architecture. Take a look at the top 10 on Construction Global.
10. Catalan Modernism: Barcelona, Spain
With a number of beautiful, historic buildings for tourists and architectural lovers to enjoy, Barcelona and the country as a whole is famed for its Catalan modernism. Established at the same time as the Catalan Renaissance in the nineteenth century, Modernism became an architectural movement in which Catalonia wanted to be placed on an equal level with the rest of Europe’s leading industrial developments, with the goal to become a more modernised city, with new styles and architectural exploration.
Examples of Catalan modernism include the Castell dels Tres Dragons, built between 1887-1888 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and the Central Market in Valencia.