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Sources of Inspiration for International style architects in Erezt - Israel


As aforesaid, the International Style was imported to Israel by architects who studied in the Bauhaus and worked in Europe. The Bauhaus School was certainly an important source of influence for the implementation of the principles underlying the new language in Israel. These principles are clearly reflected in the work of Arieh Sharon, Shmuel Mestiechkin, and Monio Weinraub Gitai, among the most prominent Israeli architects who studied in the Bauhaus. Thus, for example, the balconies in Me'onot Ovdim (workers' housing cooperative) D (Dalet), E (He) & F (Vav) designed by Arieh Sharon, resemble the balconies in the Bauhaus students' dormitory wing designed by its founder, Walter Gropius. The architects who came from Europe in the early 1930s were not the first to build in the country according to the principles of modern architecture. They were preceded by architects such as Erich Mendelsohn, Ze'ev Rechter, Leopold Krakauer, Joseph Berlin, and Yohanan Retner, who as early as the 1920s constructed buildings unrestrained by eclectic styles and unfettered by the chains of the past.

The work of Le Corbusier and Mendelsohn had a tremendous impact on the formation of International Style architecture in Israel. Le Corbusier introduced architectural solutions which were suitable to the country's conditions and possibilities: "The use of reinforced concrete; whitewashed walls; ventilation through pillars, ventilation shutters and ribbon windows; design of flat roofs and free floor plans. In the course of time, these elements became an integral part of Israeli architecture, and many practitioners never questioned their origin, nor their pervasiveness." (@@).

Mendelsohn's buildings in Israel are typified by compositions combining a set of rectangular surfaces with a curved body adapted to different functions in different buildings: At the Schocken House and Schocken Library in Jerusalem, the flat clean facades are interrupted by cylindrical balcony-windows; at the Weitzmann House in Rehovot, Mendelsohn designed a vertical cylindrical body protruding over the rest of the house, enveloping a staircase, and in the exterior walls he opened round ship-like windows; the entrance arcade of the Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem is capped by three domes whose form was inspired by local Jerusalem building attributes. Mendelsohn's buildings furnished an important source of inspiration; the incorporation of rounded bodies, mainly balconies, in rectangular compositions became a prevalent feature of International Style architecture in Israel.