Bauhaus in the White City

Bauhaus in Tel Aviv

Central Tel Aviv has the world’s largest collection of Bauhaus-style buildings. The International Modern Style of architecture appeared in Europe in the years immediately following the First Word War. Its greatest exponent was the Bauhaus School of Arts, Design and Architecture, founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar Germany in 1919. The Bauhaus School later moved to Berlin and was closed by the Nazis in 1933. Over the years, many have come to regard the terms Bauhaus and International Modern Style as synonymous.

The rise of Nazism and successive waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine brought many new immigrants from Germany, including several prominent Bauhaus architects, to Tel Aviv in the 1930’s. In Israel, these architects had to adapt their style to different environmental, and especially climatic, conditions. Tel Aviv’s tremendous urban growth at this time provided them with ample work.  The results can be seen through the approximately 4,000 Bauhaus-style buildings that were built in Tel Aviv in the 1930’s and 1940’s. These buildings are collectively known as “The White City.”

So what is Bauhaus architecture?

Bauhaus style architecture favored functionality for the benefit of the residents over aesthetics. In building design, the organization of space took prominence over mass. Architects strove to optimize light and ventilation, an especially important challenge as they moved from central Europe to Middle East. Bauhaus buildings stand out for neat flowing lines, both vertically and horizontally. Decorative elements were avoided. Construction favored the use of modern materials and relied on an internal shell rather than being supported by external walls. In Tel Aviv, many Bauhaus buildings were built standing on pillars with dangling corners to provide for greater ventilation and shady areas outdoors.

“White City”

The term “White City” refers to the collection of roughly 4,000 Bauhaus-style buildings built in Tel Aviv from the 1930s. These buildings were designed by Jewish architects from Germany as well as other countries from central and Eastern Europe. They migrated to Palestine, which was under the British Mandate, after the rise of power of the Nazis in Germany.

In 2003, the White City was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the citation recognizing the unique adaptation of a modern architectural style to Tel Aviv’s climactic, cultural, and local traditions. Tel Aviv has the largest number of Bauhaus-style buildings than any other place in the world.

Where to find Bauhaus-style buildings in Tel Aviv

Since there are roughly 4,000 Bauhaus style buildings in Tel Aviv, as you begin to notice their defining features, you will start to see a lot of them. Try the northern end of Rothschild Boulevard, especially on the east side of the street in the 80’s. Personal favorites include 87 Rothschild Boulevard and Beit Rabinsky at 1 Gilboa Street. Other good areas for viewing Bauhaus style buildings include Dizengoff Square and nearby Beilinson, Ben Ami and Frug Streets, along with the area of Yael and Shlomo Hamelech Streets north of Dizengoff Sq. Additional good examples can be seen on Mazeh and Nachmani Streets off the middle of Rothschild Blvd.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these special buildings.

The Bauhaus buildings are all on the street and so they are accessible as a normal street.

Bauhaus Tours in Tel Aviv

For walking tours focusing on Bauhaus style architecture check out the Bauhaus Center at 99 Dizengoff St. in Tel Aviv, 03-522-0249.