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Building Types


During its first decades, Tel Aviv rapidly evolved to unforeseen dimensions. The population expansion stemmed mainly from the growing waves of immigration, but also resulted from Jewish residents of Jaffa moving to Tel Aviv. The fast growth of the town in the sands led to its separation from Jaffa and its declaration as an independent municipality as early as 1921. Its unique status as the major urban center of the Jewish community in Israel was established, and it functioned as a focal point of cultural creation and political activity. Construction in the 1930s and 1940s oscillated between accommodating the basic need for residential housing, work places and services for the growing community, and the formation of Tel Aviv's urban culture and its national-Zionist identity as the "Hebrew (Jewish) City". The bulk of construction during those years was residential buildings, among them Me'onot Ovdim (workers' housing cooperative), which generated a uniform tissue of three- and four- story whitewashed box-like plaster buildings. It was this tissue that rendered Tel Aviv's identity as a "white city". The developing "white city" also included public buildings and urban spaces that have become "symbols of the period": On one hand, The Orient Fair and the new port, which represented Tel Aviv's contribution to the "Zionist enterprise", and on the other hand, the Mograbi Opera House, Habima Theater building, and mainly, Dizengoff Square, which symbolized urban culture.

The various building types were planned via controlled implementation of the International Style's set of principles, while taking into account their functional requirements and the climatic conditions. The strong heat and blinding light of the Israeli summer naturally called for special architectonic attention. The huge windows and glass facades typical of the International Style in Europe and the United States, were ill-suited for the local weather conditions, as such solutions expose the building's interior to strong light and heat. Window dimensions were thus reduced, and by the same token - the horizontal ribbon windows characteristic of the International Style were transformed into balconies. Additional means were developed to protect the interior from the sun's radiation: awnings, recessed windows, protruding window frames, wooden shutters, etc.