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Nifty Neighborhoods | White City UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tel Aviv, Israel [2]

August 28, 2010

Neighborhoods are what define cities. They are what separates Manhattan from Marseille, Montevideo from Montreal, Mexico City from Milan, and Moscow from Malang, and give each city her distinctive identity. Neighborhoods are entities of living communities. Many of them begin life as planned areas designed by municipalities, but many others simply sprout organically starting with a few like-minded people moving in, followed by others. And ultimately these living communities, where people live, work, play and learn, are what make cities attractive.

As modern-day travelers, ideally we’d all like to pursue different travel experiences that enable us to separate Kolkata and København, Kuala Lumpur and Karachi, and Khartoum and Köln.

So in your next travels, when you find yourself in a foreign city, do venture out and explore, look around you for all the colors, sights and sounds that the different neighborhoods offer. You’ll reward yourself with a better understanding and appreciation how different communities live and function. And you’ll come home with bragging rights that you’ve seen the difference between Tel Aviv from Taipei, Tallin from Tegucigalpa, and Tokyo from Trieste.

Here’s a look at Tel Aviv, and her neighborhood nicknamed White City, for her greatest collection of Bauhaus Architecture. A neighborhood so unique with a architecture heritage so distinctive it was worthy of being designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Tel Aviv has the largest concentration in the world of buildings built in the “International Style”, that was introduced to Tel Aviv in the beginning of the 1930’s by European graduates of European architecture schools. Their source of inspiration was the modern architecture movement dominant in Europe in the 1920’s. The main principles of the modern movement are – architecture is an expression of volume and not mass, asymmetrical composition and regular repetition instead of classic symmetry, avoidance of all decorations that do not have a useful purpose. The modern style, functional, simple and free of decorations, was seen as the most fitting for a young, rapidly growing city.

The European International Style went through local changes in Israel thanks to continuous open discussions among architects. This created a building style which was a combination of modern movement principles and an integration of cultures and influences of daily reality such as: Climate problems, stringent building laws, technological knowledge and production methods that existed at the time. International Style buildings are usually 2 – 4 floors, built as a single building on a plot of land and covered with light colored plaster.

The buildings were used in most cases as residential structures and often built for public uses. A large percentage of the buildings built in this style in the city can be found in the area planned by Gedes, north of the city’s main historical commercial center. The combination of modern architecture and advanced city planning created in this part of the city a built area of unique quality known as the “white city”.

As a result of an unexpected large wave of immigration from Germany in the 1930’s, the city went through a period of intensive development in a short period of time leading to the creation of a critical mass of buildings in the International Style. Approximately 2,700 edifices were constructed in this style between 1931 – 1937. Today Tel Aviv has within its borders over 4,000 buildings in the International Style built between the years 1931 – 1956. The majority of these buildings are located between Allenby Street in the south, Begin Road and Ibn Gvirol Street in the east, the Yarkon River in the north and the sea in the west. Approximately 1,100 of these buildings are intended for preservation in various city plans.

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