Eclecticism to Bauhaus in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is situated on the Israel Mediterranean coastline in central Israel, and experiences the Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild wet winters. Lying on land that used to be sand dunes and poor soil, Tel Aviv is a city in a desert area that no sun can be blocked. The architecture ever since the 1920s had been designed to cater this kind of desert climate, and

Back to the 1920s when Eclecticism in architecture came into practice, local architects tried to imitate North European architecture and put Eclecticism into use. This architectural style which incorporates a mixture of elements from previous historical styles to create new and originality, allows architects to retain previous historic precedent but at the same time create unseen deigns. This type of style usually allow more expressive freedom thus ended up with historical ornaments or decorative motives. Geddes criticised local architects for their tendency towards Eclecticism, in favour of the extreme climate that Tel Aviv is experiencing every year, the hot climate with buildings exposed to high temperatures and strong light.

eclectic telaviv copy

Geddes then recommended smaller diminished openings and flat roofs to offset the problem of climate, but it was rather preliminary and lacking of reference to a specific architectural code or method. In the 1930s, waves of immigrants hit Tel Aviv, bringing mainly middle-class families and professionals such as architects to the city. Thanks to the foresight and the knowledge of Geddes, architects then started to further develop the architectural style of Tel Aviv based on his response towards climate.

The classic Bauhaus architecture came in, introducing a style that integrated with the desert climate that Tel Aviv experiences. This style has characteristics that responded to Geddes’ recommendation, like small recessed windows replacing large glass, and flat roofs replacing slanted roofs. To further minimise the heat climate, white and light color façade was used to reflect heat, while protruding slabs and balconies provided shades for windows. Buildings were also raised on pillars to allow wind to blow under and cool off the apartments, thus at the same time providing a playing area for children.

bauhaus telaviv copy

Eclecticism offered too much creative freedom without any guiding rules for architects during the design process, thus the declining of such a style in the 1930s favoured for the new Bauhaus architectural style. The evolution of style from Eclecticism to Bauhaus clearly showed how architects those days started on focusing into functionality and cost instead of uncontrolled freedom in aesthetic values, thus Tel Aviv was one of the cities that provided a great example on the effect of such architectural evolution.

Reference:

  1. Metsger-Samoḳ, Nitsah. 2004. Des Maisons Sur Le Sable. Paris: Eclat.
  2. Bandau Irmel, and Winfried Nerdinger. Tel Aviv Modern Architecture, 1930-1939. Tü bingen: Wasmuth, 1994.
  3. “Adrian Yekkes: Eclectic City – Eclectic Architecture, Tel Aviv”. Adrianyekkes.blogspot.hk. N.p., 2013. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

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