(Levi Strauss, The City and Collective Artifacts, Paris, 1950, p.
Adoption of the International Style in Israel was part
of a worldwide phenomenon. It was a "non-particular style" which represented
no specific nationality or place. Despite the attempt to avoid "self
expression", the International Style acquired a unique character in
each country where it was absorbed. Unique manifestation was, of course,
inevitable, for each country has a social structure and culture of
its own: In each country the local "interpretation" was generated
according to its unique economic, political, and geographic conditions.
However, the geographic conditions, landscape and climate vary not
only between countries, but also within them. Even in tiny Israel
there are differences between International Style buildings in Tel
Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, stemming from their different identities:
Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains vs. Tel Aviv, the town in the
sands (thus the buildings in Jerusalem and Haifa were designed with
reference to the mountainous landscape); Jerusalem the Holy City vs.
the secular Tel Aviv; in Jerusalem history is imprinted in stone,
whereas Tel Aviv is a young city. Furthermore, most International
Style buildings in Jerusalem are coated with stone, alluding to the
local building tradition and in keeping with the municipal law. They
appear heavier and rooted in the ground… In Tel Aviv, on the other
hand, the buildings 'float' on pilotis and the plaster is peeling
off. Tel Aviv architecture has a short but fascinating history, which
in the course of time was the source of many of its troubles. The
major ethos by which the city developed was modernity, and modernism
relies on lack of nostalgia. It has been more than half a century
since the absorption of the International Style in Israel, half a
century during which styles and beliefs have changed, as well as inhabitants'
"unique ways of life". These cultural processes and changes left their
imprint on cities in Israel and elsewhere, and are manifest in the
buildings themselves. During those years Tel Aviv grew into a bustling
metropolis, its buildings grew taller and their style changed in congruence
with the winds of change in art and architecture which kept blowing
from the West.
In its "white city" period Tel Aviv exhibited some moments of beauty,
not one of grandeur and magnificence but rather the beauty of simplicity,
of brightness and austerity. During the years that have passed the
city changed, drawing away from its image as a "white city" of a uniform
The buildings were neglected, have aged, and their beauty vanished
behind the plastic shutters of the closed balconies. The same white
buildings were transformed to meet present needs. However, if the
needs and lifestyles have changed, why preserve the buildings of the
past? Why not destroy these buildings and instead construct buildings
which meet necessities of the present time?