Tel Aviv/ 1930s German Jewish architects immigration

In the early 1930s, both the city’s population and boundary expanded dramatically since 1900 to 1939 (Fig.01). Tel Aviv already looked like a developed city, with road and street system and regular plots of blockings (Fig.02). It was attractive enough for relative middle-class groups and elite immigrants.

Expansion of the city boundaries since 1900 to 1939 ©Rubin, 2013


Map of Tel Aviv in 1930s ©Rubin, 2013

Fig.02- Map of Tel Aviv in 1930. The city was well developed with road and street system and plots of blockings.


Aerial view of Tel Aviv in 1930s ©Rubin, 2013

Fig.03- Aerial view of the city in 1930

In 1933, the Nazi party closed the Bauhaus School in Berlin. It described modernism as un-German, Jewish or Communist in nature. Any “cosmopolitan modernism” ideas were prohibited in Germany. Therefore the architects and civil engineers who trained in Europe were only able to continue their career in the British mandate of Palestine, i.e. Tel Aviv, which was in need of economical and functional housing because of intense population growth. Every second architect worked in Israel came from Germany or had studied under the Bauhaus architects. Only in Tel Aviv, could the architects fully experiment their ideas of Modern Architecture.

The resounding success of Modern Architecture in Tel Aviv were three-fold as analyzed:

  1. The British Mandate Government in Palestine was receptive to Modernism which was Westernized
  2. The formal language of Modernism was adaptive to the climatic conditions in Tel Aviv
  3. The international style has a discrete language from the surrounding Arab-Ottoman tradition, defining a fresh start of the city. The lack of unnecessary ornament, the expression of technical modernity and Western rationality provided the Jews who moved from Europe to Tel Aviv a sense of belongings and familiarity.

The fact that Nazi treated Modernism as Jewish actually developed quite positively and encouraged the integration of modern architecture in Palestine. This consequently led to the largest urban collective of Modern Architecture in Tel Aviv and the White City.


  1. Noah Hysler Rubin.The celebration, condemnation and reinterpretation of the Geddes plan, 1925: the dynamic planning history of Tel Aviv.Urban History, 40, pp 114-135. 2013
  2. Bandau, Irmel, and Winfried Nerdinger. Tel Aviv Modern Architecture, 1930-1939. Tü bingen: Wasmuth, 1994.

1 Comment on “Tel Aviv/ 1930s German Jewish architects immigration

  1. The rise of Nazi shall be the event that triggered Bauhaus incentives into the British Garden City Plan. However, we need to know more historical documentation on why the city needed international style houses other than pure architectural experiments. Were there a change in social make-up and living conditions? Who were the people living in the “White City”? Where did the immigrants come from?

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