Many people don’t know this but the city of Tel Aviv is a UNESCO Heritage Site due to the many Bauhaus buildings found here. Bauhaus architecture was “imported” in the 1930’s from Germany with the influx architects fleeing the Nazi regime. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story of Tel Aviv and its amazing architecture starts way before the 1930s.
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 when 66 Jewish families got together on sand dunes north of Jaffa to divide plots of land by lottery using seashells. The first homes were one story affairs. The homes were built on Herzl Street, Rothschild Street and the surrounding area. Some of these homes have survived and can be seen today.
Public buildings were designed in what is known the Neo-Classical Romantic style. An example of the Herzliya Gymnasium which unfortunately was razed to make room for the Shalom Tower. However, this building has become a symbol of Tel Aviv and its image can be found in many places throughout Israel.
During WWI, the Ottoman Turks expelled the Jews from Tel Aviv and nearby Jaffa so nothing was built until the war ended and the Jewish residents returned. In the 1920s a new architectural style appeared in Tel Aviv – the Eclectic style. Structures built in this style are some of the most interesting buildings found in Tel Aviv today. They have many oriental and Jewish motifs and are truly beautiful. Many buildings in this style can be found on Ahad Ha’am Street and those streets nearby.
In the 1930s came the Bauhaus or International style. In fact, between 1930 until 1938 more than 4.500 buildings were designed in the International Style in Tel Aviv by more than 60 architects. These buildings were totally different than those designed in the Eclectic style. Bauhaus architecture combines straight lines, balconies – often rounded, and very little if any ornamentation.
With the 1940’s came WWII and then mass immigration into the new country. Simple, cheap buildings were thrown up fast to accommodate the masses arriving on Israel’s shores. Unfortunately, many of these buildings became eyesores and are still found throughout the city.
However, in recent years Tel Aviv has experienced a new architectural boom – the Tower. There are many beautiful modern skyscrapers dotting Tel Aviv’s skyline, each one more amazing than its predecessor. What’s more, the city has many preserved buildings which have either been renovated or are protected for future renovations. The juxtaposition of the new towers next to the buildings from the 1920s and 30s is just fantastic.
So why don’t you come to Tel Aviv and let me show you around? I know where all the great buildings are!