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    The White City

    I recently had the privilege of being able to take my Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel from November 16th to 27th, and while I knew I was going to learn more about the Jewish culture I had been taught about and lived since childhood, I was not expecting to also learn some architectural history. Enter Tel Aviv, the White City, not only one of the biggest cities in Israel but also home to the largest concentration of Bauhaus Architecture in the world.


    A brief explanation of what Taglit-Birthright is for context: Birthright is a program that allows Jewish adults ages 18-26 to take a 7-10 day almost all-expenses paid heritage trip to Israel. It’s essentially a greatest hits tour that takes you to the most prominent Jewish cities, sites, and museums within the country. My trip took us to Haifa, Tiberias, Tsfat, Mount Arbel, Masada, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Kfar Hanokdim (a desert resort with camels.)

    If you or someone you know is Jewish between the ages of 18-26, check out their website here to see the exact list of requirements. No better way to spend PTO or a school holiday than on a free trip!

    Bauhaus Architecture

    The Bauhaus was a German art school that operated in the early 1900s, particularly active during the 1920s, and founded by architect Walter Gropius. You may also recognize the names of the other architect-directors of the school, Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The Bauhaus design movement was not limited to architecture, having its moment in the worlds of graphic design, industrial design, and typography as well, all fields unified in the emphasis on everyday function and principles of mass production. For architecture specifically, design focused on more simple geometric movements, choosing to create details through form rather than ornamentation. Long strips of windows and statement railings (often metal pipe) were also notable characteristics.

    The White City

    In 1933, the Bauhaus school was closed under Mies van der Rohe’s leadership under pressure from the Nazis as the school was thought to be a center of communist ideology. With the Nazis coming to power and the school shutting down in the same year, German Jews fled to Mandatory Palestine (modern day Palestine, Israel, and Jordan.) With tens of thousands of people immigrating, housing was needed pronto, so several architects were enlisted to design a new city, including several German Jews who had studied at the Bauhaus schools in Weimar and Dessau.

    In the 1930s, more than 4000 examples of Bauhaus architecture were built in Tel Aviv-Yafo, most with whitewashed facades to reflect the Israeli heat, giving Tel Aviv the nickname “The White City.” Roughly 2000 of these buildings remain today and are protected under preservation law.

    Bialik Street/Square

    I was not in Tel Aviv long enough to explore all the architecture the city had to offer, but I was able to walk down Bialik Street, one of the three main roads where Bauhaus homes are concentrated. It’s also where the Bauhaus Foundation of Tel Aviv is located, designed by Shlomo Gepstein in 1934 on 21 Bialik Street. Established in 2008, the Bauhaus Foundation is a non-profit research center and museum of sorts, “dedicated to the conservation, study, and display of Bauhaus architecture, design, and art.”

    There was a bunch of construction, restoration, and renovations going on, but I still managed to grab a few photos of some other buildings along Bialik Street, as well as a photo of the Poli House Hotel (seen in blog title image) right outside the entrance/exit of the Tel Aviv Carmel Market.

    Rothschild Boulevard

    The following are not my photos, but Rothschild Boulevard is another main street to go down to see the best Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus has to offer.

    Highlights include Engel House, designed in 1933, and the Rothschild 71 Hotel, designed in 1934, both by architect Zeev Rechter. Considered one of the founding fathers of Israeli architecture alongside Arieh Sharon and Josef Neufeld, Rechter did not attend the Bauhaus School but studied under Le Corbusier while the later was concentrating on Purist theory with design principles not unlike the modern form-driven Bauhaus style.

    If you ever have the opportunity to visit Tel Aviv, I recommend going! Not just for the lovely architecture (there’s more than Bauhaus there) but for the beautiful beaches, great food, and lively art/market scenes.