Tel Aviv Bauhaus Architecture

Enjoy the World's Largest Collection!

Did you know that Tel Aviv has the world's largest collection of Bauhaus architecture and buildings?

Lovely Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv on Rothschild Blvd

You can see the white, bright and simple Bauhaus buildings all over the city.

Enjoy them as you walk around Rothschild Blvd, and between Allenby St. in the south and Ben Gurion Blvd. near Tel Aviv City Hall, in the north.

The Esther Theater designed by Bauhaus architect Yehuda  Magidovitch, today a boutique hotel in Tel Aviv

So What is Bauhaus Architecture?

The Bauhaus or 'international' style developed around 1920 and espouses simplicity and functionality,  which was then considered a radically new approach.

The Bauhaus School of Architecture was established by German architect Walter Gropius in Dessau, Germany in 1919 and was influenced by LeCorbusier. Both are considered among the founders of modern architecture.

Bauhaus  means light and airy buildings with a sense of 'floating' based on the overall structure, colors and simplicity.  The main characteristics of this style are:

  • Horizontal instead of vertical windows
  • Flat roofs
  • Light or white washed plaster
  • Minimal ornamentation
  • Usually the first floor is raised on pillars.

For more information on how Bauhaus influenced modern architecture, take a look at this short article

Bauhaus Architecture Comes to Tel Aviv

In the early 1900's, the living conditions in old Jaffa were terrible and overcrowded.

The original pioneers left for the sand dunes outside Jaffa and built a new neighborhood, 'Ahuzat Bayit' based on cozy, 1-2 storied houses with charming red tiled roofs that you can see in Neve Tzedek and Kerem Hateymanim (The Yemenite Orchard).  But these homes could not accommodate the growing population influx that started in the 1920's. 

To read more about the history of this period in Tel Aviv, visit our page on Modern Tel Aviv History. 

In 1925, the famous Scottish urban planner Sir Patrick Geddes  developed a unique and modern new city plan for Tel Aviv, with lots of gardens and open spaces in between buildings. While the Nazis were gaining strength in Europe, European Jewish architects escaped to Israel and started designed new buildings in Tel Aviv, based on their European training in the new International 'Bauhaus' style. Most of these buildings were situated in the area of Tel Aviv designed by Sir Geddes.

From the 1930's to the 1950's, over 4,000 new Bauhaus buildings were built in Tel Aviv by architects such as Shmuel Barkai, Dov Carmi, Ze'ev Rechter, Benjamin Chlenov, Joseph Neufeld, Carl Rubin and Arieh Sharon.  One of the most prominent architects was Yehuda Magidovitch, Tel Aviv's first city engineer who planned over 500 buildings including the Esther Theater (above), today's Hotel Cinema, as well as Tel Aviv's Great Synagogue.

Even Tel Aviv's former city hall was built in the Bauhaus style:

Tel Aviv former City Hall built in the Bauhaus style

Tel Aviv - the White City

Over the years, the Bauhaus buildings were neglected and deteriorated. Absurdly, some were even torn down.

About 25 years ago, the city began a major preservation plan for these historic buildings.  A flurry of activity and Bauhaus renovation began which hasn't stopped since.

Today there are about 1,000 Bauhaus buildings that are intact or renovated, the largest collection worldwide.

tel aviv the white city

Their visual effect is striking. Not grandiose and soaring, but creating a feeling of floating based on simple, clean and attractive lines.

The Unesco added the 'White City' of Tel Aviv to its list of World Heritage Sites in July 2003.

Tel Aviv Bauhaus architecture differs from the classic International style, because the architects had to consider Israel's climate.  

The preponderance of window and glass in European Bauhaus architecture doesn’t suit the intense light and heat of Tel Aviv summers. In the days before air conditioning: 

  • Local architects decreased window sizes and replaced windows with balconies, a great solution for hot Tel Aviv summer nights.
  • Bauhaus buildings were designed to catch the Mediterranean sea breeze.
  • Awnings and window shutters were used to create shaded areas.
  • And in deference to the local 'Eastern' influence, some Bauhaus buildings got small domes or arches surrounding the doors.

So what do you see?  Lots of white, or light-colored, cubic 3-4 story buildings with little or no ornamentation. Flat roofs, often with gardens.Lots of round corners, lots of windows and balconies, with awnings and shades.

Free Bauhaus Architecture Guided Tour

The city of Tel Aviv runs English-speaking, free guided tours of the White City.  

They are fun, short and highly recommended. You get a great overview of the beautiful Bauhaus buildings in the center of the  city.

Just show up at 47 Rothschild Boulevard, on the corner of Shadal Street. There is no need to book in advance. The tours  run every single Saturday (except for Yom Kippur).

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