How Did Tel Aviv Become a Beacon For Stunning Bauhaus Architecture?
Israel's second largest city is home to one of the largest clusters of buildings from a major 20th century architectural movement
While Germany has been busy celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus architecture in 2019, Tel Aviv has been honoring the movement and preparing for its own architectural commemoration in 2020: the 20th anniversary of its Bauhaus Center on Dizengoff Street, a bustling thoroughfare named after the city's first mayor. Though it may be unknown to the typical person, Tel Aviv is actually home to approximately 4,000 edifices of Bauhaus architecture (2,000 of which are protected under preservation law), the world’s largest collection of Bauhaus-inspired buildings.
But how did the Bauhaus style come to Israel from Germany? When the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933, resulting in the closure of the Bauhaus design school that same year, tens of thousands of Jews fled Germany to settle in Mandatory Palestine. With 60,000 new immigrants arriving within just a few short years, housing was urgently needed. Dozens of architects were commissioned to build a new city. Among the most influential European architects selected were six German Jews who had studied at the Bauhaus school in Weimar and Dessau. They were key to the development of Tel Aviv’s "White City," whose moniker is attributable to its whitewashed façades.
“In other countries we see Bauhaus buildings usually in some isolation or as neighborhoods, but rarely as connected urban tissues.” says Dr. Micha Gross, cofounder of the Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv. This onrush of Bauhaus-designed buildings in the mid-20th century in one city led to the distinct recognition of it being named a
modern UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.