Israel Recent Architecture

By | December 22, 2021

In recent years, in Israel as in other countries, there has been a series of critical reflections in architectural culture on the dominant concepts of the previous decades. However, many choices made in the past regarding new settlements and expansions of cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv continue to have a decisive influence on architecture and urban planning.

The New Towns network was planned starting from the 1940s with the dual aim of dividing the population over the territory and integrating as much as possible residents of recent immigration and very heterogeneous geographic origin. On the British model, a strong authority for national planning was complemented by district committees and local structures. The bitter struggle against the desert environment, with pilot-interventions regarding water distribution and exploitation of solar energy, overshadowed the search for architectural quality, which emerged relatively recently. In recent years, the weight of autonomous initiatives on a local basis has increased, while the ideal of absolute integration has been abandoned.

The events relating to Jerusalem have taken on great international prominence: the grandeur of historical evidence and the strong demographic growth have made this city an exemplary case in many positive and negative aspects. The authoritative advice of the World Committee for Jerusalem, while exercising a considerable influence especially in the seventies, has not always been able to direct the interventions in the Old City and the new expansions. For Israel 2004, please check

The Jewish quarter in the Old City has been rebuilt with vernacular characters; the results have been called kitsch by critics such as B. Zevi, a member of the Committee since its inception. However, the recovery of the ancient thistle had a notable importance, revitalized as a commercial area (P. Bugod, E. Niv-Krendel, S. Aronson). There are also numerous interventions in modern language, albeit with attention to the aggregative ways of Mediterranean architecture that distinguishes many Israeli creations in different versions. An example of this is the work of the Israeli-Canadian M. Safdie, one of the most important personalities on the international scene. Its Mamilla Business District, located between the new expansions and the Old Town, was however accused of being too large in scale. Other works by Safdie are the Hosh and Block 38 residential complexes (which include restorations of ancient nuclei), the Van Leer villa (restoration and extension of a 19th century building) and the college for student-rabbis Porat Joseph, with the controversial project to redevelop the area in front of the Western Wall. The great expansions of Jerusalem were planned in the seventies with criteria that are much discussed today. Both the most recent (Neeve Yakov, Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Alon) and the previous ones of a few years (East Talpiot, Gilo) show a great variety of forms due to the rotating use of the various architects. A certain uniformity is ensured by the stone cladding of all the buildings, imposed on Jerusalem by a law of 1918 which has always been renewed.

For example, Gilo, south of the city, was designed (A. Yasky and associates) for about 10,000 homes; it is made up of sectors of 700 ÷ 1000 residents (among the designers, A. Yasky, R. Karmi, M. Lofenfeld and G. Gamerman, A. Spector and M. Amisar, G. Zippor). In particular, the sector of A. and E. Sharon is characterized by decidedly modern forms and technologies, while that of S. Hershmann is an example of the recent attempts to reconnect with the local housing tradition, both in the proposal of neighborhood units of 50 ÷ 80 residents and in the architectural morphology.

Another line of research is that of Z. Hecker, based on the combination of polyhedral modules according to the model of crystalline aggregations (houses in Ramot). The achievements on Mount Scopus also continue, such as the Central Library (Y. Rechter), the Pedagogy building (D. Reznick with A. Spector and M. Amisar), the Faculty of Moral Sciences (R. Karmi and associates).

In Tel Aviv, free from historical conditioning, architecture has often taken on modern international characters, as in the representative buildings of King Shaul Boulevard: Israel-America House and ” Kur ” office Building by A. and E. Sharon; IBM Building (A. Yasky and associates); Asia House (M. Ben-Horin); Courts of Justice (Y. Rechter, M. Zarhy, M. Peri); ” Hakibbuts House ” Building (S. Mestechkin). In the university, WJ Wittkower is the author of the master plan and various faculties. L. Kahn’s last work, the Wolfson Engineering Building, was built after the Master’s death by J. Mochly and Y. Eldar. In Tzrifrin (Tel Aviv), an original nursing college was built by A. and E. Sharon.

Other trends are represented in Israel by ALGB Sonnino (series of public buildings in various smaller centers), S. Mandl and G. Kertesz (community center for Bedouins in S. Caterina), IM Goodovitch (dormitories in Sharem-aSheik, station service in Haifā), J. Assa (museum-memorial of the Golani armored brigade), A. Elhanani (psychiatric center in Tirat Carmel, Haifā), A. Mansfeld (Shaar Ha῾ Aliya asylum in Haifā).

Ultimately, the panorama of Israeli architecture is very rich and varied, as indeed it has been its characteristic since the pioneering times of the British Mandate, even if critics have often complained about the lack of a unitary address.

Israel Recent Architecture