They all left a significant mark on the ground and their architectural forms have further infused the liberal admixture of Israeli architecture.
I remember that Jerusalem glows golden in the sun, the light reflecting off each and every building, all clad harmoniously in Jerusalem stone I remember, also, that Tel Aviv shimmers with the whiteness of its buildings. With an American education, you are very marketable directly after school if you have great computer drafting skills, but it is strongly recommended that you obtain 2-3 years of work experience before making Aliyah, to ensure your ability to handle all the demands required for Israeli architects. His latest project, Forensic Architecture, is way of turning a building’s military wounds into evidence to be used against the state for the investigation of war crimes, with the aid of innovative architectural and visual technologies.
Visiting Nablus and Jenin, he explains how the Israeli army pioneered a new kind of modern urban warfare through its deep understanding of architecture. Local Israelis and Palestinians explain how it feels to live in a landscape where everything, from walls and roads, terraces and sewage, to settlements and surveillance are designed to ensure the separation of the two peoples, while simultaneously maintaining control. Former Dean Professor Yohanan Ratner was famous for pioneering the ‘Wall and Tower’ settlement method in the 1920s and 30s, and later designed many public and private buildings in the country, including Technion’s Aeronautical Building and the impressive National Institutions Building in Jerusalem.
The Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at Technion has played an important role in modern Israeli architecture. The storied history of Israel has led to a diverse mix of architectural styles in the country, with the different cultures which have occupied the country during different periods giving rise to various different design styles. Spending time in another country is the chance to expose yourself to new design styles, expand your knowledge of architectural history, and introduce yourself to different ideas and working methods.
Stone, for example, is gradually introduced into Modernist constructions in Jerusalem, and arched doorways and fenestrated courtyards mark the architects’ gradual grappling with, and accommodation of, local styles. The relative similarity of individual buildings in style, scale, and color (invariably white), especially in Tel Aviv, meant that they often came together as homogenous urban facades,” according to Benner, an unpretentious sameness that scaled up the modesty of a single construction to the urban-level. They wanted, as you move through the show, to feel like you were on the street, with the faces of the these buildings looking at you,” says Andrew Benner, the architecture school’s director of exhibitions.
Wandering through the exhibition, designed by architect Oren Sagiv, one feels immersed in the distinctly Mediterranean high Modernist city. It is here that the core of the story of pre-State Modern and International Style architecture plays out, where detailed formal analytic, axonometric, and interpretive drawings of (mostly) residential Modernist constructions convey the socialism, utopianism, and communitarianism that defined Zionism of the time. Palestine’s distance from the cultural centers where Modern architecture had defined itself made the local landscape an ideal ground on which to explore this new dialect,” the show’s catalogue asserts.
Tours of the architecture of Tel Aviv are a fascinating way to get an overview of the history of this city. This stamp issue is not intended as a considered judgement on which are “the best and most beautiful buildings in Israel.” That is a verdict which has to be handed down by the public who use the buildings, by professional architects and artists and by history itself. The late Alfred Neuman was known for his original conceptions and his architectural approach which found expression in this unique building the Bat Yam Town Hall which he designed in collaboration with two of his disciples – Zvi Hecker and Eldar Sharon.
It is interesting to note that the series includes not only the work of those veteran Israel architects associated with the very beginnings of modern Israel architecture, but also that of younger practitioners who entered the field only after the creation of the State. Lead Architects for new buildings: James Carpenter Design Associates – Reid Freeman. Type: Executive Architecture (Lead Architects: James Carpenter Design Associates + Efrat Kowalsky Architects) Public Building, new + intervention in an existing building, including zoning plan.
Sagiv continues, ‘Unlike many places in the world, the modernist typology in Palestine actually developed into an architecture of streets and public spaces, creating an urban fabric that went beyond the singularity of individual buildings.’ Pictured: Casino Bat Galim, Haifa, 1934. Focussing on the period between 1930 and 1940, the exhibition spotlights some of Israel’s most iconic buildings, representative of a distinctive regional interpretation of international modernism that emerged. ‘This contributes to an important aspect of the local modernist language: the urban modern space… Unlike many places in the world, the modernist typology in Palestine actually developed into an architecture of streets and public spaces, creating an urban fabric that went beyond the singularity of individual buildings.’
Sagiv’s approach is not nostalgic, however, but an attempt to redefine the way the public look at the buildings from this period, many of which are starting to vanish, with the proliferation of new construction projects in Israel’s cities. With limited resources and technology , and with only local materials available, ‘the Zionist modern architects in Palestine were free to experiment and search for their own version of the modern language, which was neither inspired by European technological innovations of the time, nor enamoured with the picturesque local architecture and handicraft’, Sagiv explains. The style was all but abandoned because of its frivolity towards the end of the decade, but in Israel, many postmodern buildings demonstrated a great deal of gravitas and significance.
In the late 1960s, when the International style started to lose favor because of its monotony and lack of integration into local context, Israeli architecture returned to a fusion of local and international styles.