The city of Tel Aviv has always been a melting pot of cultures and artistic styles. In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s Tel Aviv was a young, thriving city in the midst of economic, social, cultural and geographical change. It was during this period that the part of Tel Aviv known as “The White City” was built. The architects and designers of the city could not imagine that their choice of the Bauhaus style of architecture would eventually make Tel Aviv the largest open-air Bauhaus museum in the world.
It was because of the “White City” that Tel Aviv was added to the list of 56 historical cities in the world in 2003, and became one of the few modern cities to be declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
The “White City” is a unique and beautiful residential neighbourhood in the heart of Tel Aviv. The neighbourhood consisted of 4,000 buildings that were built during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s of which about 1,000 are still standing today.
The buildings, designed by the best architects in the city, drew on the Bauhaus style invented in post First World War Germany. Bauhaus design philosophy attempted to create a new, simple architectural language based on clean forms that met people’s everyday needs.
In Tel Aviv, the Bauhaus style gave rise to a typical Israeli style that was suitable to the hot Mediterranean climate and the city’s turbulent atmosphere. The simple, square white buildings sought austere beauty from the asymmetrical play between various geometric shapes. Round terraces were built alongside square windows, flat roofs, and tall pillars. Ceilings were higher and rooms larger than usual and large windows overlooking the urban panorama were open to the pleasant evening breeze. In keeping with the Israeli tradition of warm hospitality, the terraces of these homes served as meeting places for the residents and their neighbors as well as friends passing by.
Visitors to Tel Aviv can visit these buildings in the area of Rothschild, Bialik, and Dizengoff streets, marvel at the beauty of the houses, and sense their great contribution to the city’s architecture.
The impact of Bauhaus was not only in Tel Aviv. At the end of the 1920s a railroad was built to link Mandatory Palestine to Jordan. A white railway station at the border was built in the Bauhaus style with clean lines and a roof that rests upon square pillars, rounded on one side and square on the other. The station can be seen only within the framework of organized tours that leave from the area of the Israeli-Jordanian border. The graffiti on the walls add to its historical value.