The White City of Tel Aviv is the largest collection of Bauhaus style buildings in the world. It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for this reason, and its collection of beautiful white buildings, many of which have been amazingly restored, is something which amazes people visiting Tel Aviv, wherever they might be from. As well as the Bauhaus architecture which characterizes the city, Tel Aviv also has a great collection of eclectic-style buildings, and many newer buildings which slot in-between and create a magnificent architectural mosaic – the architecture of Tel Aviv is unique! Many tourists visiting Tel Aviv decide to take a Tel Aviv Architecture Tour to get to understand both the styles of building and history of this amazing city.
The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909. The founders of the city, then still called Ahuzat Bayit (meaning Housing Estate Association), turned for advice to several planners, including Wilhelm Stiassny, Josef Treidel and Avraham Goldmann. On 21 May 1910, they changed the name to Tel Aviv (meaning Hill of Spring). In November 1909 the first families moved from Jaffa to Ahuzat Bayit. By the end of the month, 50 families had moved in.
In March 1910, Akiva Weiss (one of the founders of Ahuzat Bayit) settled with his pregnant wife and 7 children in his new house on Herzl Street. Soon Weiss’s wife gave birth to Tel-Aviv’s firstborn child, a girl named: Ahazabit. By the end of 1909, the first houses were built on Rothschild Boulevard. The houses were designed in Neo-Classic Romantic Style, examples include the “Twin House” on the corner of Strauss and Mazehstreet, the “Levine” house on Rothschild Boulevard or the “Pagoda” house on the corners of Melchett, Nachmani and Montefiore streets. Research has shown that most of the first architects of Tel Aviv were born in Russia (48), Poland (31), Germany (13), Palestine (10), Austria & Romania (3).
From 1924 until 1929 the building-designs were in the Eclectic-style, classic architecture with an Oriental aspect and old-Jewish ceramic motifs (e.g.Biblical figures and tales, typical Jewish symbols and utopian prophecy.) You will find examples of Eclectic buildings in at no 13 Nahalat-Binyamin (the Shmuel Levy house), at no. 37 Ehad Ha’am street (the Municipal School of Boys) and at no. 35 Ehad Ha’am street no.35 (the P. Katzman House).
From 1930 until 1938 more than 4.500 buildings were designed in the International Style, in Tel Aviv called Bauhaus by more than 60 architects. In Tel Aviv they designed their International Style houses with deep, rounded balconies, flat roofs, horizontal windows to cut the glare of the Mediterranean sun and beautiful whitewashed. The architects were directly inspired by the buildings of the Bauhaus School, and in particular, the “French” balconies which many architects of Tel Aviv, such as Shmuel Narkai or Ze’ev Rechter also used in their designs. The ideal Tel Aviv apartment should be cool in summer and comfortably warm in the winter. Given the lack of thermal insulation that time, the architect needed to use natural features such as the sun and the winds. The rooms facing the west were cooler in the morning, those which face east were better ventilated in the afternoon. This is why the living rooms face west and the bedrooms face east. These were the type of considerations that guided the Bauhaus architects for their plans of the unit apartments.
Some examples: the “Braun” house at Ehad-Ha’am street no. 49, the Shami house at Frug street no.5, the beautiful Kruskal house at Idelsohn street no.25, and the “Reisfeld house at Hayarkon no.96.
After 1948 thousands and thousands of new immigrants came to Tel Aviv and the buildings (in their thousands) were designed in a “cheap kind” of Bauhaus Style.
On Monday, 7 June 2003 UNESCO declared the inner-city of Tel Aviv a World Heritage Site, saving the 4,500 Bauhaus-buildings (and the buildings designed from 1909) from their destruction.
Over the past few years, mass-restoration of Tel Aviv’s traditional buildings has been undertaken, whilst modern glass skyscrapers have sprung up across the city to give a unique and stunning contrast like no other!
Tel Aviv Architecture Tours
Tours of the architecture of Tel Aviv are a fascinating way to get an overview of the history of this city. More details can be found here about these tours which are guided by an expert in the architecture of Tel Aviv for a cost from $25 per person. Another option could be this Tel Aviv Urban Tour, including not only architecture but also food and street art.