Tel Aviv Architecture
Unlike most of Israel’s modern cities, Tel Aviv has a unique architectural style, mainly due to its being home to the glorious Bauhaus design. Another important facet of Tel Aviv’s distinct charm is the eclectic nature of its architecture, thus one may observe on the left of an 80-year- old magnificent Bauhaus building a row of functional utilitarian crumbling and unpainted structures, while on the right, a 25-storey high- rise for the city’s ultra rich. Though more and more towers are being erected in Tel Aviv’s city center, it is still known for its 3- 4 storey buildings.
All in all, the city’s main architectural attraction is undoubtedly the Bauhaus-style buildings, some of them renovated splendidly and others left to wither away. A watershed moment for all us architecture and history enthusiasts came in 2004, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized Tel Aviv’s White City as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since then, things have begun to change for the better.
You can go to the Bauhaus Center on Dizengoff Street to get more extensive information, or join a free municipal city tour.
What is The White City?
Tel Aviv has the largest collection of Bauhaus-style structures in the world. In the 1930s, after the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, scores of Jewish architects fled to British- mandated Palestine and made their home in Tel Aviv. Here they built literally thousands of (mostly white) modern Bauhaus-style houses, around which the city grew, as it became a lab experiment for Bauhaus.
The center of the White City was set on Rothschild Boulevard, in the heart of Tel Aviv, and it came to flourish thanks to the municipality’s lack of established architectural conventions.
Though the British urban planner Patrick Geddes laid out the street and block sizes in the 1920s, no architectural style per se was ever prescribed. This allowed the Jewish Bauhaus-loving (and Le Corbusier-inspired) German architects to let their imagination run wild when designing public and residential buildings in the city. The designs and structures were adapted to the hot and humid Tel Aviv climate, thereby distinguishing Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus buildings from the European Bauhaus structures (windows, balconies, etc).
Most of the kiosks situated in the middle of the boulevards, including Rothschild Blvd, have turned into trendy cafes, and the overall atmosphere is nothing if not chic. You can stroll for hours along Rothschild Blvd. and its surroundings and admire the splendid designs, sip good coffee and engage in some intense people- watching.
What is Bauhaus?
Bauhaus (literally: “Building School” or “House of Building”) was a German school of design that combined fine arts and crafts, and operated from 1919 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi regime.
The style was based on the idea of combining various forms of applied arts, like architecture, interior design and graphic design, and is characterized chiefly by an emphasis on functional design and inexpensive materials.
View Tel Aviv City Guide: Architecture in a larger map
White City Tours
Municipality tour – free
Time: every Saturday at 11AM
Meeting point: 46 Rothschild Boulevard, at the corner of Shadal Street
Bauhaus Center tour – $15
Regular two hour tour: every Friday at 10AM
Meeting point: the Bauhaus Center, 99 Dizengoff Street
To set up a group or individual tour at time and place of your choosing, call 522 0249 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, learn more about the architects, the concept, the process and the diversity. In many ways, the story of the White City is the story of Tel Aviv itself, so this is a splendid opportunity to have a taste of the first Hebrew city’s past.
Some of the structures on and around Rothschild are truly magnificent, and the stories about them are fascinating.