modern facades

I have been in Tel Aviv now for a few weeks, soaking in the city, digging through archives and snooping around buildings in various neighborhoods. I have many thanks to offer…once again I have experienced wonderful generosity from many people here and around Israel/Palestine.

Sahar, Danna, Opher, Liya  & Mikael,  Yael, Yahel & family, Itai & Adi, Rachel, Nicky, Neta….

Today I had an illuminating conversation with Mr. Nissim Davidov, who is a fountain of knowledge on the planning and architecture of Tel Aviv. After our talk he graciously offered to walk with me through the city, discussing the stories behind the buildings, gardens and squares as we passed them.

Tel Aviv’s modern architecture, the ‘bauhaus’ collection, has far less to do with the modernist principles that began the movement than it does with the sleek appearance of the façade. This façade, not produced by an ‘honest expression of the interior’ instead creates a homogenous backdrop for the now lively city.

In most (perhaps all) buildings, various additions and alterations have crept in. Most common are balcony enclosures, which were first done with plastic shutters and now upgraded to glass. At the street, restaurants creep out and borrow space from the ample sidewalks. And without human intervention, the heavily salted air from the Mediterranean works hard to break the stucco and concrete surfaces.

In Zina Square on Dizengoff Street, at the center of planned Tel Aviv, the façade’s importance (or building’s lack) reaches a high point. Here, one of the seminal Tel Aviv buildings was bulldozed for remodeling…while the façade remained standing.

And the gulf between façade and building is growing. Notice the project (one of a few I’ve seen) under construction in south Tel Aviv.

But this isn’t the city’s only face…there are many incredible things happening here. More to come…

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