The Watch

The White City

Tel Aviv, Israel

1996 World Monuments Watch

One of the largest concentrations of Bauhaus architecture is located on the Israeli coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The White City of Tel Aviv was largely created in the 1930s by a group of 200 architects fleeing Nazi Germany. The community consists of 4,000 buildings covering almost one and a half square miles the city center. Influenced by Le Corbusier and Erich Mendelsohn, the White City addressed climatic, regional, and traditional building requirements and fulfilled aesthetic aspirations espoused by Bauhaus and other Modernist architectural theorists and practitioners. White and pastel exteriors, flat roofs, balconies, and minimalist, and functional designs dominate the streetscape of the White City. After many years of deferred maintenance and exposure to the Mediterranean sun, buildings in the White City were showing their age. By the mid 1970s, some had deteriorated enough that demolition was chipping away at the heart of the city. Twenty years later, a new conservation plan was undertaken to preserve the legacy of thousands of landmarked Modern buildings in this historic city center. Since Watch listing in 1996, dozens of buildings in this city within a city have been accurately restored. The municipality created an electronic database and archive on a large number of the buildings and continues to compile standards for appropriate preservation techniques. In 2003, the White City of Tel Aviv was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A plan to preserve the low-rise Modern structures was approved in 2007 and more than 1,500 buildings have been preserved to date. The White City of Tel Aviv is the largest single urban ensemble of Modern architecture in the world and the first modern city in Israel. Developed as a garden city, the Modern White City of Tel Aviv offers its residents a high quality of life through suitable street proportions, intensive gardening and maintenance of commercial arteries in calculated separation from residential streets.

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