Fragment 001, Mirenburg House, 11 Zina Dizengoff Square/ 13 Ben Ami st., Architect: G. Averbouch, 1936 © Yigal Gawze, 1993
Form and Light is a photographic exhibition depicting Tel Aviv's "Bauhaus" architecture of the 1930s. The work captures the spirit of the "White City" – designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is based on Yigal Gawze’s photographic series fragments of a style.
By focusing on the buildings' fragments, the colour photographs examine the local adaptation of the International Style, brought by European educated architects to the shore of the Mediterranean.
The sharp perspectives and dynamic compositions that are inherent to this work, echo, in their own way, the avant-garde photography of the 1930's. The use of colour, accentuated by the local light, underscores the attributes of the modernistic architecture and the city it has formed.
The work is a tribute to past ideals and present renewal and it conveys the essence of the special encounter that takes place in Tel Aviv – between an architectural style originating in Europe and the Mediterranean glare.
On the occasion of the 100 years of the Bauhaus and its influence in the architecture of Tel Aviv's "White City", the Israeli Embassy in Portugal and the EDP Foundation present the exhibition Form and Light by the photographer Yigal Gawze at Power Station Building.
The Building Blocks of the White City of Tel Aviv
The exceptional number of 4,000 International Style buildings in Tel Aviv, make for a unique place where the impact of the Modernist architecture has left a clear trace on the urban fabric.
In 2003, UNESCO designated 3 zones in the heart of Tel Aviv, known as the White City, a World Heritage Site. The criteria of the nomination were “a synthesis of outstanding significance of the various trends of the Modern movement in architecture and town planning … adapted to the cultural and climatic conditions of the place, as well as being integrated with local traditions”.
Tel Aviv of the 1930s and 40s was in fact a laboratory of sorts, in which architects, trained in various European countries, discussed and created a “modified modernism” on the shore of the Mediterranean. Without forgetting their European culture and education, they manged to integrate their ideas in a way that resulted in an original and functional building type.
Most of the International Style structures in Tel Aviv are modest apartment buildings, erected to house the waves of immigrants arriving from Europe during these years. They are typified by their cubic articulation and balconies – either recessed or cantilevered, which create a vivid interplay of light and shade under the sun. Thus, the local façade has a strong plasticity and is much more three-dimensional in comparison to the mostly flat and light European Modernist façade.
The concentration of these buildings in the centre of Tel Aviv results in what critics describe as “a relaxed uniformity”. The urban fabric is highly homogenous, made of adjacent ‘cubes’, each one slightly varied, but together creating a consistency, which serves as an ideal backdrop for the urban life.
The success of the White City is also due to the city’s 1925 urban plan by Sir Patrick Geddes. The ‘home blocks’ in the heart of which there are small parks, and the guidelines indicating that the buildings are to be free standing structures surrounded by small gardens, result in a vivid mosaic of a lush green city which enjoys a wonderful human scale.
It is this unique combination of an urban plan based on the ideas of the ‘Garden City’ movement of the late 19th C., and its infill – the Modernist architecture dating from the beginning of the 20th C. which creates the specificity and the unique character of Tel Aviv’s White City.
© Yigal Gawze 2019