Private Residence – Engel House

Prior to the official founding of Tel Aviv, the majority of the private housing near the settlement of Jaffa is vernacular Mediterranean houses. With the influx of German Jews due to the genocide of the Nazis, they brought with them the skills and knowledge from the Bauhaus school. Many private houses in Tel Aviv thus embody the characteristics of typical international style, though with adaptions to suit the special climatic conditions there.


The Engel House (1933), by Ze’ev Rechter, is the first building built on pilotis in Tel Aviv. This not only marks its association with the international style, but the relationship between international style and the living of the people.


Due to the hot climate in Israel, the apartment buildings built on pilotis let air pass the bottom of the building and increases its contact surface for cool air. It also suits well with the social condition of the Jews as the additional space provided can be utilized as play areas for children, which is crucial for big Jews family.


The slanted roof of typical Bauhaus building has also been changed into flat roof, with an exercise room, a roof garden and concrete pergola for the enjoyment of the residents. The U-plan of the Engel House takes advantage of the inner courtyard facing Mazeh Street for familial / social gatherings and facilitates bonding within the neighbourhood.


Many private houses changed the wide, horizontal windows of typical Bauhaus houses into small, recessed openings to escape from the searing sun. Yet, Engel House still put emphasis on the horizontality with its protruding window frames and wide strip window, possibly due to a different orientation than other houses. Its embodies the features of modern living yet never neglects the unique requirement of Jewish family in such hot region. As an negotiation between the modern and the vernacular living, the Israeli seeks a new form of living with such accidental opportunity. Such adaption provides them a new identity and a unique way of understanding their own society and living.

Engel House. Photography: unknown. Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality.




Schlör, Joachim. Tel Aviv : from dream to city. London: Reaktion, 1999.

Alexander, Michael. Cities and labour immigration: comparing policy responses in Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Tel Aviv. Ashgate, 2007.

Israel Tours. “Bauhaus Architecture Tour”. Accessed November 15, 2018.

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