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Nationalizing the International Style



The International Style was imported to Palestine (henceforth Israel) in the 1930s by architects who studied in the Bauhaus, or alternatively worked in the offices of European architects who followed its principles in their building design. While the previous decades' architects and artists in Israel engaged, for the most part, in adapting a formal dictionary in an endeavor to create a "Hebrew (Israeli) Style", the architects who were the standard bearers of the International Style provided the means for mass construction, which promoted the national revival, transforming it from theory to reality.

If the first public building in Tel Aviv, the Herzliya Gymnasium, symbolized the regeneration of a picturesque past, which in fact existed only in the imagination, then the International Style represented a new society in the making. "The absence of building tradition greatly facilitated the absorption of modern architecture in Israel, and the lack of style and binding patterns prevented, to a large extent, the confrontation with obsolete architectural perceptions. The International Style was indeed preceded by an aspiration to merge and assimilate in the Orient, manifested in the work of the modern architects as well. However, the desire to erect building inspired by progressive architecture and the aspiration to be modern were stronger. The International Style was perceived as an expression of the link to Western culture, and many of the architects spared no effort to maintain contacts with Europe, either by frequenting the continent or by reading professional literature and publications."
(Micha Levin, Ir Levanah ('White City', p. 10 [Hebrew]).