Bauhaus in Tel Aviv

German Culture Influence in Israel

May 18th, 2017
Urška Sajko, CD News

The small hut in front of the Bauhaus-Archives and Museum of Design holds a documentary exhibition on how former members of the Bauhaus school designed an asylum building for the Jewish refugees during the Second World War in Israel - one of the first cultural, architectural and diplomatic exchanges in modern history.

Bauhaus was an art school established in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Its curriculum was a mixture of fine arts, crafts and architecture. It was driven by the idea to create Gesamtkunstwerk - meaning the ultimate work of art - combining all existing branches. The school inspired one of the most well-known art and design stiles in modern history. Although the biggest museum are in Weimar and Dessau, the Bauhaus-Archives and Museum of Design located in Berlin carries an important legacy of Germany’s cultural history. The exhibition spaces are not very big and the collection inside is a bit modest, but not for long because the building will be expanded in 2019 due to the museum’s growing popularity.

Inside the exhibition halls, one room is dedicated to interior design (furniture and other home objects). Some of the objects were so practical and pleasing to the eye, that they become a part of the mass factory production and today we simply cannot imagine our homes without them. Others were too abstracted and thus never found their way into mainstream use, but will forever have a place in the museum. The museum also holds the largest collection of private photos of students and their lives in the school grounds and some original art pieces, costumes or objects that they had designed during their school years.

In the small hut in front of the museum there is a documentary exhibition on how some former members of the Bauhaus school designed an asylum building for Jewish refugees during the Second World War in Israel. And that is one of the most interesting cultural, urban and diplomatic exchanges in modern history. In the centre of Tel Aviv stands the White City district, which consists of four thousand buildings made in Bauhaus stile. They were designed by German Jewish architects in 1930’s (the most well-known being Arieh Sharon), who fled to Palestine, after the closing of the Bauhaus school under the rising Nazi regime. Tel Aviv has the biggest amount of building in Bauhaus-international stile, more than any other city in the world, including even the German ones. UNESCO proclaimed the White City a World Cultural Heritage site. It was one of the first architectural collaborating of stiles from different cultures, a unique adaptation of modern international architectural trends to the cultural, climatic, and local traditions of the desert city and the Bauhaus principles, with their emphasis on functionality and inexpensive building materials. To adapt to the Mediterranean and desert climate of the area means that the buildings are white, because white colour reflects the light and keep out the heat. Bauhaus stile buildings usually have big windows, but the adjusted buildings have small ones, for the same reason listed above: to keep out the heat. Narrow balconies and slanted roofs are also a trade mark of the White City and are also different from the original stile.

In the 1930’s, when the first Jewish refugees started to come to the Palestinian land, Palestinians did not hesitate to welcome them and help build the buildings for the refugees. The Palestine-Israeli conflict, which has lasted for almost sixty years to this day, shows no sign of ending any time soon. In this situation, it is very sad that the Israeli, while living in the Bauhaus white buildings, have completely forgotten the hospitability they once received and are being blinded by greed.

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