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Thread: "White City" of the Bauhaus in Tel Aviv

  1. #1

    Default "White City" of the Bauhaus in Tel Aviv





    © 2006 tel aviv 4 fun


    "White City" of the Bauhaus
    in Tel Aviv



    Within the well-worn twists-and-turns of Modernism's history, there are repeated references to ‘white' somewhere in the re-telling. At times white relates to purity of form, other times to idealism, but most often to something literal in the Architecture.

    No one in Architecture need be reminded that Modernism's seminal Bauhaus style did not require that a building be white. In fact, most of the notable Bauhaus buildings in Germany, where it began, were not white at all. Yet, in its translation through Le Corbusier, the Bauhaus style was specifically rendered in white, and that was due in large measure to Le Corbusier's 'purism" aesthetic at that time.

    Richard Meier, a latter day neo-Corbusian, also carried the theme forward in his unofficial title of ‘White Knight’ of the Modernists, beginning with his homes, and continuing through his museums, office buildings, most of his skyscrapers, churches and technical buildings. With the beginnings of Post-Modernism in the United States, it is also significant that Modernists were called the 'White(s)' and the Post-Modernists were counter-labeled the 'Gray(s)'. Robert Stern (before the 'A. B.' was routinely added) became the firebrand leader of 'Gray(s)'. He cast 'White(s)' as the dutiful, but elitist Architects of the opposition, supposedly restricting creativity within Architecture of that time, with their emphasis on 'foreign' rules of how to build functional buildings that date back to the Bauhaus. The point was simple - Modernists ignored the traditions and history of America by not drawing from any historical references, rather they pursued the restrictive abstract idealism applied everywhere the same and leaving little margin for improvisation.

    There is yet another 'white' story, the white story of this thread. It happened between the early 1930s and mid 1950s, with estimates that range wildly between 2500 and 5000 Bauhaus-like or Bauhaus-inspired buildings. These buildings were constructed in what became the old section of Tel Aviv, when Israel's second city expanded. That area was crowned "White City” as it developed - although many of these same structures were not always white. Even if you were more rigourous and take the low-end figure of 2500, this is still the largest concentration of Bauhaus-styled buildings in the world. In 2003, UNESCO belatedly recognised 'The White City' by placing it on the prestigious "World Heritage List".




    © flickr / Yoav Lerman


    But why did this happen in Tel Aviv? Tel Aviv, after all, served as shelter for Jews who tried to escape from problems brought about in Germany, Russia and elsewhere.Why bring in particular, the vestiges of a German legacy to Tel Aviv, and plant them inside this city that desperately sought to forge a new identity in the desert?

    We already know this Bauhaus school - meaning its founders and students - were forced to flee Germany when Nazi suggestions led to outright shutting down of the third iteration of the Bauhaus under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Many from this school found themselves in Russia temporarily; others went to North America - particularly United States; a few went to Venezuela; and there were the refugees who went to Tel Aviv. In the transition from the Weimar Republic to National Socialism, so-called “degenerative” Architecture and ideas were thoroughly excoriated. Bauhaus was '... not historically German,' according to the emerging, and later ascendant Nazi authorities. They argued that those who followed its precepts were leading Architecture in the 'Fatherland' down the path of " ... foreign ideas masquerading as Teutonic treasures." The concept of "not historically German," although in fact founded by very Teutonic Germans, was enough of a reason, sadly, for rejecting this school out of hand, and forcing both its ideas and proponents outside that Nation's borders.

    And what about the specific Architects of the "White City" in Tel Aviv? Not only were they many in number, but also a large portion of them were notably neither born nor reared in Germany. Interestingly, as the Bauhaus form caught fire in Tel Aviv, precisely because it was a good fit - beautiful and inexpensive to build, an elegant simplifying of a previous style - it pulled in Architects that recognised the logic and built in that then new style, even though they were never formally exposed to any of its teaching or rules. Whatever was German about it was lost for a period of time, in both the lack of acknowledgement and successive adaptations. "Tel Aviv Bauhaus," as a stylistic branch, inevitably developed its own backlash, some time in the mid to late 1950s depending on whom you read.

    Now it is a tourist area in Tel Aviv, deserving a much broader audience and appreciation than that, but being actively preserved - for which we should be thankful
    .

    – Zephyr

    © flickr / Tierecke


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 09:08 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Samples from the 1930s



    1933
    Barbag Corporation




    1933
    Greenberg Apartments




    1934
    Aginsky House




    1934
    Braun House




    1934
    'Ship' House




    1935
    Elite Candies Factory




    1935
    Ha'aretz House




    1935
    Shami House




    1936
    Gavrilovich House




    1936
    Kiper House




    1936
    Kruskal House




    Courtesy of artlog
    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 09:13 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Characteristics of 'Tel Aviv Bauhaus' vs 'Bauhaus'




    Characteristics of "Tel Aviv Bauhaus versus European Bauhaus


    Through this excerpt, Yael Zisling provides a direct, succinct, and useful comparison of the Bauhaus to its Tel Aviv version. Note also that Le Corbusier's variations are key components in this explanation - a point that is often left out of essays of this kind:


    There are a number of characteristics to the Bauhaus/International Style of architecture:

    1) It shuns ornamentation and favors functionality
    2) Uses asymmetry and regularity versus symmetry
    3) It grasps architecture in terms of space versus mass

    Bauhaus buildings are usually cubic, favor right angles, (although some feature rounded corners and balconies); they have smooth facades and an open floor plan.

    Bauhaus architecture, whose founding father was Walter Gropius, developed in Germany in the 1920s and later in the U.S., in the 1930s. The American form of this architectural style was dubbed the International Style after Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and other leaders of Bauhaus migrated to the U.S., with the Nazi’s growing influence. The Bauhaus school in Dessau was closed on April 11th, 1933, by the police, at the insistence of the National Socialist government.

    Purists assert that Bauhaus architecture can only refer to buildings in Germany and anything else should be termed International Style – while others use the terms interchangeably (as is the case in this issue of Gems in Israel). The term International Style was really adopted after the publication of a book that coincided with a 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The book, by historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock and architect Philip Johnson, was called, The International Style.

    Bauhaus architecture was concerned with the social aspects of design and with the creation of a new form of social housing for workers. This may be just another one of the reasons it was embraced in the newly evolving city of Tel Aviv, at a time when socialist ideas were so prevalent. This style of architecture came about (in part) because of new engineering developments that allowed the walls to be built around steel or iron frames. This meant that walls no longer had to support the structure, but only enveloped it – from the outside.

    The teachings at the Bauhaus school of design, which functioned from 1919 to 1933 (first in Weimar and later in Dessau), were greatly influenced by the machine age. The school's aim was to fuse all the arts under the concept of design. The school had 700 students and was known for requiring its students to forget everything they had learned to date.

    ...

    Some Local Bauhaus Adaptations

    Smaller Windows

    Some of the key elements of Bauhaus architecture had to be adapted to the local environment, primarily because of the climate. One of the key elements of the International Style in Europe was a large window. However, in a hot climate – large windows that let great amounts of light shine into the rooms – do not make sense. Locally, glass was used sparingly and long, narrow, horizontal windows are visible on many of the Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv. On some buildings, you can also see long narrow balconies, which in many cases have now been enclosed. This was an adaptation of the long narrow windows.

    The horizontal ‘strip window’ was a signature characteristic of Le Corbusier. A number of local architects worked in Le Corbusier’s office in Paris and were greatly influenced by his style.

    Stilt Columns (Pilotis)

    Another element used by Le Corbusier was stilt-type columns (pilotis), which raised the buildings off street level thereby creating room for a green garden area while providing greater airflow.

    The first building built in this manner in Tel Aviv, was Beit Engel. It was built in 1933, by Zeev Rechter, and is located at 84 Rothschild Boulevard, and the corner of Ma’zeh Street. Rothschild Boulevard is an excellent area to see a great variety of Bauhaus buildings (although quite a few are in dire need of restoration). If you go to see the Engel building today you will notice that the ‘open’ area created by the stilt columns has been enclosed. Rechter fought for two years to get approval to build on these stilt columns. This type of building became quite common, in Tel Aviv and the surrounding cities, although by the 1940’s fewer buildings were being built in this manner in Tel Aviv.

    Flat Roofs

    Another of the local features of the Bauhaus buildings, are the flat roofs, as opposed to the typical shingled and slanted roofs, prevalent in the European buidlings. The roofs served all of a buidlings’ residents. While roofs in most cases did not feature gardens, (as envisioned by Le Corbusier), they were a place where social events were held and where the laundry room was often located as well.

    Reinforced Concrete

    The local building technology of the time was not advanced. Reinforced concrete was first used (in Tel Aviv) in 1912. Later it became widely used, because it was easy to work with and did not require skilled workers.

    Bauhaus architecture became common in Tel Aviv of the 1930’s for a variety of reasons. There was a strong tendency toward modernization. Architects, who worked locally, had strong ties to the European architectural developments of the day. There was also a need to build cheaply and quickly because of the growing metropolis.

    Tel Aviv is the only city in the world, built mostly, in the International Style. In fact, over the years a kind of reactionary ‘anti-Bauhaus’ sentiment, developed.*
    Source:
    © 2000 Gems in Israel. All rights reserved.


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 12:21 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Dramatic Balconies


    © flickr / Flickmor / nilly oren / skaists_laiks


    © knot


    © flickr / savtadotty / gkamin (1) / gkamin (2)

  5. #5

    Default

    Personally I find this stuff very beautiful --proof that Modernism could rise to beauty if freed from excessive puritanism. If you think about it, precious little separates this stuff from the exactly contemporary Art Moderne architecture in Miami Beach. Strip off the deco ornament and the colors there, and you'll find the "Moderne" is really Modern.

  6. #6

    Default

    Very Guggenheim-ish.

  7. #7

    Default "Eclectic Style"




    Tel Aviv before the Bauhaus

    In the 1920s, the decade that immediately preceded the influx of Bauhaus styled buildings, there was the so-called 'Eclectic' style. As the name implies, this was no real style but rather a collection of styles, both European and Middle Eastern. Below are a few samples:



    Courtesy SSP-Tel Aviv / Elkhanan1


    Courtesy SSP-Tel Aviv / Elkhanan1


    Courtesy SSP-Tel Aviv / Zohar


    Courtesy Wikipedia


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 08:21 AM.

  8. #8

    Default

    1) Excellent thread; A very interesting and relatively little known subject.

    2) I agree that many/most of the buildings look good. It’s been my observation for some time that, much as I loathe the vast majority of ‘modernist’ buildings, when they are not too big and are painted brilliant white they look a lot, lot better.

    3) Some of the buildings pictured here are halfway between ‘modernist’ and ‘streamline moderne’, ne c’est pas?

    4) There must also be a fair amount of Art Deco buildings in Tel Aviv, I guess?

    5) Some of the ‘eclectic’ (I would call it pared-down classical) buildings look fine too; especially the one in the bottom picture .

  9. #9

    Default Building Tel Aviv Bauhaus - Rothschild Boulevard 1




    Bauhaus-inspired Buildings eventually Emerge on
    Rothschild Boulevard where Tel Aviv Began


    North of the old city of Jaffa, in a sand dune area off the Mediterranean coastline, is Tel Aviv - or Spring Hill. Despite being a relatively young city within an even younger nation, Tel Aviv has the highest standard of living in Israel, and is that country's second largest city. Metropolitan Tel Aviv now includes Jaffa, as the two entities have developed together, with the older Jaffa joining in the dynamic growth of Tel Aviv, to form a varied and intriguing mix.

    And as far as Tel Aviv is concerned, it began with a dusty desert road, and a shared dream. Still under the Ottoman Turk empire, and before the British arrival, the primarily Jewish residents sought to bring a 'flower to the desert,' while forging a modern Jewish identity. Outside observers may only have seen the unpaved road and the improvised housing - but these pioneers were determined to transform that humble start into something special.

    During these early beiginnings, one street, without an agreed upon name, took centre stage. After a few name changes this street finally settled upon 'Rothschild Boulevard,' taking its cue from the founder of modern Palestine - Baron Edward de Rothschild (aka Binyamin Edmond De-Rothschild).

    Rothschild Boulevard presided over the main Architectural changes that visited this city in the next couple of decades. To this day, it is arguably the best place to examine "The White City" of Tel Aviv's Bauhaus-inspired buildings. It is also the cultural fountainhead of Tel Aviv - the place where it all began.

    - Zephyr


    It is 1910, at the intersection of Rothschild and Herzl Street.
    Tel Aviv was founded here, a year before this photograph



    © Avraham Soskin


    In the 1920s, the so-called 'Eclectic' style predominated
    on Rothschild Boulevard



    © flickr / Courtesy Emanuel Ben-Zion


    'Tel Aviv Bauhaus' appears in force by the 1930s


    Courtesy Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Another segment of Rothschild Boulevard,
    captured in a period brochure



    Courtesy Vono Labs / ovi.ch


    Present Day Rothschild Boulevard -
    symbolically bringing a
    'Flower to the Desert'



    © flickr / shyb


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 08:09 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Building Tel Aviv Bauhaus - Rothschild Boulevard 2




    A Sampling of Individual Buildings
    on Rothschild Boulevard



    Zeev Rechter's
    Krieger House



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Haim Sokolinsky's
    Goldenberg Rose Birek House



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Haim Sokolinsky's
    Samuelson House
    67 Rothschild Blvd.
    1932



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    69 Rothschild Blvd. <-----------------------------------------> 71 Rothschild Blvd.


    Wikimedia Commons / David Shankbone


    Zeev Rechter's
    Engel House
    84 Rothschild Blvd.
    1933



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa
    Pinhas Hitt's
    Yitzhaki House
    89-91 Rothschild Blvd.
    1933



    Courtesy SSC-Bauhaus / Hebrewtext




    96 Rothschild Blvd.

    first view (top) - Courtesy of Doron Avi-Ad; next view (bottom) - © flickr / goldberg


    96 Rothschild Blvd. Sculpture by Ofra Zimbalista





    Yitzhak Rapaport's
    Rapaport House
    118 Rothschild Blvd.



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 5th, 2008 at 08:10 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Building Tel Aviv Bauhaus - Dizengoff 1




    Dizengoff Street and Circle where Bauhaus-inspired buildings
    are at the Centre of the city


    Dizengoff Street was in reference to Tel Aviv’s first Mayor - Meir (aka Me'ir) Dizengoff. But the most outstanding feature of that street came later with the completion of the Zina (aka T'zina) Dizengoff Circle, named for the first Mayor’s late wife.


    Meir Dizengoff (1861-1936)
    Russian born first Mayor of Tel Aviv



    Courtesy medyamasada com


    Because of its history, Dizengoff Street had also become a tribute to the Bauhaus. From end-to-end, the Tel Aviv Bauhaus-style was everywhere present.


    Period Picture of a typical Bauhaus-inspired
    Building on Dizengoff Street



    © flickr / yellow book ltd


    By revamping the Square into this Circle, however, Russian born but Bauhaus trained Genia Averbuch succeeded in creating the crown jewel for the Tel Aviv Bauhaus. As the primary Architect, Ms. Averbuch made changes to the way Dizengoff circulated out to other streets, and set a trend in the way Bauhaus buildings addressed the Circle. Ms. Averbuch saw most but not all her vision completed by 1934. She provided what many thought was the final punctuation, not only to Dizengoff the street, but also to "The White City" in general. Moreover, this is perhaps the most photographed area in downtown Tel Aviv, from the day it was revamped all the way up to the present.

    Long after the Bauhaus Architects faded from the Tel Aviv scene, this Circle was again modified, but not because of the failure of the Bauhaus style, but rather due to its popularity. A central parking area, underneath, was created. This was accompanied by a more efficient routing of traffic more seamlessly through the underground of the Circle and on to other streets that radiated from it. Also added was one other key item - access to a new underground mall.

    According to many long-time observers, none of these changes detracted from the overall Bauhaus feel, because these additions were largely invisible, and served the function of facilitating greater usage, spread out over multiple levels and venues. Others would beg to differ, preferring a return to the original more elegant and less complicated 1934 design. You'll have to be your own judge on this matter.

    - Zephyr



    Dizengoff Circle honoured in Tel Aviv Centennial stamp


    © 2007 Jacob Richman


    Dizengoff Circle dramatically punctuates "The White City" in the 1930s


    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Genia Averbuch's
    Dizengoff Circle, 1934



    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 07:32 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Building Tel Aviv Bauhaus - Dizengoff 2



    Dizengoff Circle Buildings
    Started as Bauhaus-inspired Cinemas,
    later Renovated into Boutique Hotels


    Genia Averbuch, the Architect who designed the Dizengoff Circle, also designed buildings around that Circle. But by the late 1930s, Ms. Averbuch was beginning to transition into city planning when the first of two major Cinemas appeared on this site.


    Cinema Esther becomes Hotel Cinema Esther

    This first Cinema was the largest of the two. It was owned and operated by a wife-and-husband team of Esther and Moshe Netanel, and was named like the Circle for the wife, hence - Cinema Esther. Moreover, the Netanels found a way to draw large numbers of people to the Circle, and their timing was impeccable. What they needed was the right Architect to execute their business vision.

    The Architect they selected was Yehuda Magidovitch. He not only completed Cinema Esther by 1939 with all their business visions in place, he also created a work that was an undeniable tour de force. Both he and the Netanels had previously worked out a plan that featured a 1,000 seat Cinema, which provided additional space to create the following: a café that faced the street, and a small department-like store. The most brillant final piece to the Nethanel plan was the eventual introduction of air-conditioning to this building - not just appropriate for this desert setting, but all together novel for the time.

    Architecturally, the exterior that Mr. Magidovitch came up with, was derived from Bauhaus, but with a certain ersatz twists. Outside, for instance, the curved balconies reflected the Circle's curvature, but unlike Bauhaus structures that created balconies that were ultimately functional, this version was largely decorative. They were in fact balconies without porches! Inside, the broad expanses were fashioned for drama, even though masked by simple presentation. Placement and lighting created stunning but minimalist results. Intriguing natural-light screens throughout the lobby, augmented by strategically placed artificial light, made it all work. To-day only the remnants remain, especially the minimalist staircase, but they have been restored without changes and a great deal of attention to detail.

    Migrating to Tel Aviv after WWI, the Russian-born Mr. Magidovitch arrived in the non-Bauhaus phase of Tel Aviv Architecture. Actually, in the earlier part of his career, his structures were definitively Eclectic without a hint of anything Bauhaus-like. He worked in his official capacity as Architect of the city, run by then first Mayor Meir Dizengoff. It was during this time that Mr. Magidovitch indulged simultaneously in private work, which was a no-no that could not be hidden. Eventually he was forced to leave his city post to conduct an exclusively private practise.

    The adaptable Yehuda Magidovitch, expanded Eclectic to include Bauhaus, and he was not the only one to do so after 1930. Below is Cinema Esther recast in its current role, since 1998, as boutique hotel - otherwise known as "Hotel Cinema Esther".


    Chen (aka Hen) Cinema becomes Center Hotel

    A Polish Architect who was specifically trained at the German Bauhaus, Arieh Sharon, designed the second Cinema placed on Dizengoff Square. This building was slightly further away from the Circle, but next door to Cinema Esther when they both began as places to see film.

    This motion picture theatre was initially called Chen (or aka Hen) Cinema and was completed by 1945. Chen/Hen Cinema and Cinema Esther co-existed for a considerable time thereafter, and you'll notice the obvious similarity in exteriors but different scales.

    - Zephyr



    _____________

    HOTEL CINEMA
    _____________



    Exterior of Hotel Cinema
    Esther


    Front View Facing Circle


    SSC-Bauhaus style / Hebrewtext

    Front Left then Right


    SSC-Bauhaus style / Hebrewtext


    SSC-Bauhaus style / Hebrewtext



    © flickr / mr.beph, stellamaxima


    left - © flickr / mr.beph, stellamaxima; right - © Tel Aviv in Focus


    Interior of Hotel Cinema Esther


    © flickr / sacrary

    Cameras from former Esther Cinema on Display in the Lobby


    © flickr / (left, right) amyddunn, stellamaxima

    Views of Lobby and Hallways


    © expedia, noapass, tamka

    Close-ups of Staircase and a Display Case


    © flickr / (left, right) amyddunn, stellamaxima


    _____________

    CENTER HOTEL
    _____________



    Arieh Sharon
    Chen / Hen Cinema
    Dizengoff Square / Circle
    1945



    Courtesy SSC - Bauhaus style / Hebrewtext


    © artlog


    Another period photograph of Circle and Dizengoff Buildings




    Chen / Hen Cinema eventually becomes Center Hotel

    Center Hotel as photographed from Hotel Cinema Esther
    Center Hotel Sculptor Unknown



    © flickr / amyddunn


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 5th, 2008 at 05:50 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Building Tel Aviv Bauhaus - Hayarkon




    Tel Aviv Bauhaus built along the Mediterranean Sea
    on Hayarkon Street


    To-day the Bauhaus is not as omnipresent along the Mediterrean Sea as it was in the 1930s and 1940s. That is because the Seashore has been gradually re-populated with newer buildings that have overtaken that role in both location, and in some cases height. Period photographs are the best illustration of the past however, and a few remain.

    Hayarkon is the street that defines the Tel Aviv Bauhaus along the sea, although this same street travels at times away from that shore in various places.

    We have attempted to illustrate both the past and the present, the seahore and inland aspects of Hayarkon, as it relates to Bauhaus-styled buildings.

    - Zephyr


    Period photographs of Tel Aviv Bauhaus on Hayarkon Street


    Courtesy of Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa


    Aerial photograph below is in the reverse direction
    to prior photograph above



    © 2003 bjr, seven


    Recent photographs of renovated Tel Aviv Bauhaus buildings,
    again on Hayarkon Street





    Next Building


    Renovated Bauhaus photos are courtesy of Doron Avi-Ad



    Wikimedia Commons / Sambach


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 5th, 2008 at 06:53 PM.

  14. #14

    Default




    Tell Tale Signs a Tel Aviv Bauhaus building
    needs Restoration



    Apartment building, near Dizengoff Square

    Unsightly from a Distance in a Prominent Location


    © flickr / ganjodata

    Worse yet up Close


    © flickr / Urban Hipster

    Next to a Restored Building is when it looks the Worst


    © flickr / open sky


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 1st, 2008 at 07:56 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Perception versus Reality 1



    "Can a Tel Aviv Bauhaus building that is actually white,
    appear otherwise when seen in person or via colour photography?"



    Same Building, photographed on different days, and at different times of day

    Chen Cinema / Center Hotel


    © flickr / amyddunn


    © flickr / MR MARK BEK


    © flickr / Pat_Brasil


    Different Buildings
    but same grade of white, same materials and finish,
    photographed at different times of the day






    Photos in this section, courtesy of tel aviv 4 fun


    Last edited by Zephyr; August 2nd, 2008 at 06:19 AM.

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