Following the 108 editorial, in which I “swore" that the new road to Jerusalem was planned by a first year student, since on some curves the slopes are reversed and a sure recipe for suicide, a veteran subscriber called to say that “even if we were right, we shouldn’t put Israel down in front of the gentiles”. I gently explained to him that no one pays attention to affairs of life and death since, anyway, we are all preoccupied with “there will be nothing, since there is nothing”.
But, feeling overly critical, I decided to leave Israel alone and write only about things that trouble the gentiles, and anyone who criticizes our wonderful country can go commit suicide on the reversed curves of Road One.
I turned to God on Google asking him what bothers people in other countries, and this is what they say:
“People who stick to your ass on Road One; people who block the left lane because in any case you can only drive 110; stepping on dog poo revolted owners didn’t clean up because no one saw; computers that decide to update just before you press SAVE; a telephone call just as you’re about to finish… typing a long sms with one finger; people shouting on their mobiles to overcome the noise of kids yelling at their parents; crumpled papers coming out of the washing machine, you’ll never know what was on them; people who push in, convinced it’s okay provided they pretend to look in the other direction; toilets where you have to climb onto the seat to close the door; public toilets where every “hiccough” must be quietened with a flush so that whoever is washing his hands won’t think you’re the only person who hiccoughs in public; noisy, peeping neighbors; flies and mosquitoes that always, but always spoil your moment of peace - it is still not clear why they were invented; an air conditioner that breaks down on a Friday summer evening; and people who shake your hand coming out of the toilet, thinking that a wee bit of moisture doesn’t matter, since it is nothing, and nothing it will be”.
Michal, from Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, whose Memorial Hall on Mount Herzl stars further on in this issue, says I’ve become poetic since their house in Neve Tzedek appeared on the cover of issue #9. Admittedly, I sometimes tend to be swept away by emotion, though I always insist on searching for the rationale behind the building. However, you will agree that it’s really difficult to avoid repeating yourself in over a thousand articles, when anything you write may sound as if you’re quoting Le Corbusier, Louis Khan, Mies der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, or Ami Ran.
111 is my lucky number. We’ve been waiting for this issue for years, always fighting to look straight into the eyes of reality, imagine it’s as pretty as love, a holiday written in honey, the silence of autumn leaves, a caressing winter sun ray, or one of Simon and Garfunkel's addictive Song of Songs.
I thank all the Project of the Year judges, architects: Prof. Juhani Pallasmaa (chair); Ofer Manor – Jerusalem City Architect; Sharon Neuman; her partner Iftach Hayner; Michal Aharoni; Oren On; and representative of public taste, Moran Talmor Cohen.
And by the way, I am personally irritated by advertisements where some idiot shouts we should squeeze the juice out of the oranges… really.
Architect Dr. Ami Ran
ostensibly a love song
The golden ratio between the legislating authority, operational authority, and the judging authority is in real danger of extinction. Perhaps our generation is no longer relevant, although most of us aren’t yet wearing “gatkes”. But extremists threatening democracy really bother me - and, probably anyone who cares about our fragile existence in this small country with a mustache, where all places are sacred - ostensibly, ostensibly, ostensibly - I was told it should be said three times so no-one can accuse me of not saying it.
My concern is that even if I manage freedom of speech before the “Erdoğan” abolishes it, I might still be notified by the Welfare Ministry that my “Excellent Worker” award is cancelled, God Forbid, because I turned on the radio on Yom Kippur.
And it’s not funny, and the fact that it’s happening all over the world isn’t even vaguely consoling (yes…ostensibly). We can’t allow ourselves the luxury that other countries might be able to… and it doesn’t really matter that Trump and Hillary are cursing each other like two naughty kids.
I find it hard to understand what motivated the honorable Deputy Minister (a proud Druze) Ayoub Kara to insult all the Italians, just because someone at UNESCO doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, that the Temple Mount is named after the House built by King Solomon about 1,700 years before Caliph Omar built there the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Allah’s name, and that a thousand years before, a no less sacred Jesus was crucified in the area.
And what the hell does the sea care if the tree is (still) green? What does a bird care if the sea is (still) deep? And why does anyone care if someone tweets or writes a love-song to his Motherland?
Even Amos Oz once wrote a “love-song”, and I am a thousand percent sure he addressed it to whoever thinks he did… after all, that’s the beauty of poetry, anyone is eligible to interpret it according to his needs or understanding,
and it goes like this:
“Love can’t be educated
to love a country,
or to love a landscape.
Love can be contagious.
Love can sometimes be awoken.
But not with a high hand or an outstretched arm”.
Amos, whose extreme bleeding heart writings (ostensibly) are not my cup of tea, also said the seminal sentence:
“Anyone who wishes to realize dreams better know that the price is compromise”. And this is true about everything - from relationships to building laws, stupid though they may be, they still protect us somehow from illegal building (ostensibly), in all sorts of weird places, forcing us all to live in a hallucinating reality.
That’s it. I didn’t mean to sound sticky, not at all. I simply wanted to exploit the freedom of expression given to professional magazines like Architecture of Israel, due to the fact they are not (yet) regarded “national”, and before hatred forces us to live under an Ayatolian regime, whether under the guise of a turban, a kippah, or a wig.
And how did Alterman phrase it in his “Outside Stars” poems:
“The road opens wide… and the spirit shall rise with a flying swing, and lighting shall pass above us (Inshallah).“
And this is what could be called cultural shaming (ostensibly).
Architect Dr. Ami Ran
5 units in stupidity
At Tel Aviv University a few days ago I saw numerous lunatic students whose IQ had been stolen by Pokemon. As someone who had encountered this “intelligent” game several days before, I wondered about the significance of something that not only manages to take control of real space, but also totally controls what happens there; and leads completely normal people to wayout places, inducing them to forget everything around them in favor of a stupid hunting of imaginary characters. On the way, I downloaded the application in order to familiarize myself with the material, but after several attempts gave up in frustration, thinking that any toddler could do much better than me. And this made me think that all this business of 5 units mathematics is nothing more than the stupid idea of somebody who doesn’t understand that someone who doesn’t go to school gets a lot further than someone who does. Fact – the Wizard of Menlo Park - Thomas Alva Edison, managed to register no less than 1,093 inventions that lit up the world, although he didn’t have even one unit mathematics, not to mention finishing second grade.
Whenever I come across a paradox to do with novelty, I communicate by séance with my grandmother who died long before the cultural revolution of Regev, Smotritz, Hazan and Bennet, although she did have time to hum Buskila before passing away. And she told me that it’s all about general knowledge; not mathematics, not Gemara, only general knowledge you gain in the university of life. What do you mean, I wondered…and she continued unhesitatingly. “Poki” is a young child’s fart, and “mon” in French means my. And this I can still manage to control somehow.
And seriously, there is still hope because in the introduction to the Zohar it is said that during the holidays the “Koidosh Boruch Hu” comes down to fix his broken souls. Namely, it is he who breaks that must also fix. And from this one can infer that the bored hacker who invented Pokemon is the only one to fix the world. Evidently it’s a known fact that someone like that is regarded by the police, security services, and the Mossad as a potential redeemer of Israel's problems and should therefore be paid as much as he wants…as long as he isn’t from the minority, which is of course a paradox, since a large number of them are bored Arabs who don’t go to school because they don’t believe in Bennet, knowing that the future lies in computers.
And with regard to architecture…more or less: in his youth, Motti was educated at the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Ra’anana; he holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Management and finished a Director’s Course at Bar Ilan University. He was Marketing Director of a Meat Company, a member of the Board of Directors of World ORT…and he is now head of the Regional Council of Lower Galilee. Recently, when the heat and power of governing addled his brain, he decided to forbid Arabs to enter swimming pools in the region, because, "they have different hygiene customs". And he’s right! They don’t urinate in water like us; they don’t smear but wash themselves, don’t pass on germs by shaking hands after their hand has just wiped their lower orifice; and their sheets are too white because they don’t mix whites with coloreds.
Beyond the cynicism of someone who is chairman of the Local Planning and Building Council of the Lower Galilee, I wonder if he knows that it was the Muslims who invented running water taps, and most of the important hygienic customs, many of which have yet to reach the Wild West.
Rochi, who is responsible for editorial sanity, says that I might be exaggerating a little, after all this is an innately racist Council with only 18 Jewish settlements, (since, according to its webpage, there are no Arab villages in Lower Galilee); that perhaps Smotritz was confused after a night of studying Torah and courtesy, when he said that Separation isn’t Apartheid.
I admit that all this undermines the connection we take for granted between wisdom, the Jewish House (Party) and culture. And that instead of teaching 5 points mathematics, we should encourage learning that there is a soul behind every pair of eyes; even the sterile, modestly smiling chemists arouse respect across the counter in almost every pharmacy.
P.S My grandfather was a Rabbi, and Claudine can testify that I am not just another left wing architect, but someone who cannot remain indifferent to the stupidity harming what is left of the beautiful Israeli.
Architect Dr. Ami Ran
editorial AI 105
The leap year aborted the May issue on Independence Day. Don't dare write anything negative, I muttered to myself, think positive, as if you were writing the text for the lighting of the beacons to the glory of the state of Israel, and our neighbors. Symbolizing the sharp transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day, the moving event enjoys maximum national consensus and, as someone worried about losing even one subscription due to a typo, or a cynical comment that occasionally overcomes me, I adopted the idea.
And it goes like this: I am Zion from Jerusalem (or vice versa), the son of Sarah, Hagar and Abraham from Beer Sheva, remnant of the Exodus from Egypt, descendant (undoubtedly) of King David, his wife Batsheva and her husband Uriah the Hittite, who fell in battle - proud to announce that we have a great place, wonderful weather, as clear a sea as Greece, fantastic people who always leave the place clean and tidy when they leave, intelligent members of Knesset, a Prime Minister who is humble from the armpits up, honest ethical ministers, faultless mayors, unprejudiced Rabbis, a Wall in which to insert notes, courts that provide an abundant living for more than thirty-thousand families of attorneys, comfortable, quick and safe public transportation, and terrific architecture.
Happy and satisfied with all the gifts we’d received from ‘You have Chosen us' or his wife Evolution, we took a trip to dip the eggs that remained from the Seder, in what remained of the Dead Sea. We chose Kalia Beach – only 57 NIS per head– and sat down near the lifeguard who periodically announced in his mother-tongue: “Ya Mister, come closer so I don’t have to bring you out drowned".
Although signs clearly said not to dip your head in the water, we blundered a bit because of the muddy pits, but never mind, they say that the black mud, which takes two weeks to get rid of, is good for wrinkles.
The cool breeze caressed the burns below the belt with the tenderness of a Mother Teresa, while bathers, decorated with mud – mainly residents from Nablus, Jericho, East Jerusalem, and other religions – reminded us that the beach, until not long ago, was under the rule of the king of Jordan. And this really didn't spoil the chummy atmosphere, the likes of which has not been seen on the Mediterranean shores of ping-pong rackets and barbeques since Herod’s time, not to mention other holiday spots saturated in garbage.
We searched for a knife… to cut the spinach-stuffed pastries, generously offered to everyone by a woman, who came out of the water fully dressed, as if we were guests at her daughter's wedding.
The calm, peaceful atmosphere reminded me of my Polish neighbor who always said that a good neighbor is better than a bad relative. And she was right. The random event filled our souls with hope for a better future, perhaps even more effective, than - God forbid - any threatening slip of the tongue.
And to the glory - of - the state of Israel!
Architect Dr. Ami Ranon the horizon between dream and reality
One of the most “thrilling” posts I recently read on Facebook was from someone who got the point and decided to implement in real life what he’d “learned” from the net. He started to offer friendship to everyone, and if she refused he began to “follow” her, click her “like” with his toe, invite her to share, send her smilies, kisses, and hearts, tell her she was his coochie…
The question of who needs Facebook at all was recently answered when the number of users eceeded 2,600,000,000 - something like all the Indians and Chinese together, or all the nonsense that crosses our mind, including dreams, desires, disappointments and lies that frustrated politicians feed us. In fact it is all about the need to belong and be present in the virtual world that randomly alters, like everything else, apart from what is determined by god - and this is exactly the constant subject my brother Udi and I discuss every evening on the boat as we row to the horizon between dream and reality.
The coochie dreamer from the Facebook is sitting today in the same cell with that Katsav who became president. But we’re left with all the bad thoughts about demolishing the Supreme Court, the gas monopoly, and stupid decisions of corrupt MKs members who stank, and those yet to stink.
One unrealistic dream is that of Tel Aviv’s Municipality for an underground train network under and above the inhabitants, who will have to suffer for six to twenty years, forgetting the 2.5 billion NIS that NTA has “drawn” from their pocket.
NTA was founded in 1997 by the Ministry of Transport to represent the state against the competing entrepreneurs for the Tel Aviv metropolis underground job. However, If the 2.5 billion NIS went only to planning, we are talking about a project of NIS 100 billion at least, not to mention compensation, investment in alternative solutions, unimaginable financial damage to residents, and stealing. Unfortunately, many of those inhabitants will not survive to see the wonder, and by the time the work is done, we will probably be able to travel anywhere by Google, with intermediate stations on Facebook and, with a little bit of luck - on fun dating sites, where all are still beautiful, young, spontaneous, with a sense of humor, or common sense.
It’s really important you don’t get the impression that I’m complaining. After all I personally live on the periphery of the metropolis, and here in Herzeliya, the old trains, stopping the traffic every five minutes, are no more than second hand childhood memories.
Despite all the Gay stabbers and church burners that come from our ranks (we have no control over the others) I would like to point out something positive and surprising: there is no connection whatsoever between trains, geographical remoteness from the Tel Aviv “monopoly”, residents’ average income - and level of education (and, I assume, of culture too). Fact - the Druze village of Beit Jann located near Mount Meron, ranked first in the country as eligible for matriculation, although the school building has no architectural gimmicks, the access road to the largest Druze village in the country was built only in 1955, and the houses were connected to the water network only in 1966, not to mention that the only train to pass a few dozen kilometers away was the Turkish Valley Railway at the beginning of the previous century.
And yes, I am aware of the fact that Architecture of Israel is about architecture, design, and environment, and this is exactly what I'm talking about, correct me if I'm wrong.
By the way, former Tel Aviv City Engineer, 81 year old architect Israel Goodovitch said that “worst case, we’ve lost ten to twenty years of our lives".
Architect Dr. Ami Ran
A moment of truth, and I must sit down and write the editorial. The first question I ask myself is what is a moment of truth? Is it a hint that all other moments are untrue? Claudia, for whom music is in the soul, says it's a moment to which you choose to grant significance and dignity; a moment when the material loses its robustness and the soul is left naked. Rochi, my manager, says it’s a moment of insight; when the penny drops and you see things differently. Yogev, my guitar teacher, says it's a moment when you understand the inexplicable relationship between a sound and what it does to your mood. I personally think that a moment of truth is a malfunction in the mechanism of containment; namely, the moment you can no longer contain the other, the thing, the situation, because - it’s enough - from loathsome politics to beloved love.
I’m reluctant to admit to my fellow architects, the magazine, and all those who think architecture is a profession for life, just because Oscar Niemeyer died from architecture at the age of 105, Frank Lloyd Wright for love at the age of 92, and Frank Gehry, at the age of 86, is still surprising - but, a few years ago I decided to refresh myself with something new and studied group counseling for couples (I swear). I used to begin the first session by handing out paper on which participants were asked to list, in order of importance, ten reasons “why I don’t leave my partner” and the answers of about twenty-five participants were more or less:
1. I’m used to him.
2. I’m afraid of being left alone.
3. The economic situation makes it impossible.
4. Poor guy, what’ll happen to him.
5. Afraid of what the children would say.
6. What my parents would say.
7. How my friends would react.
8. What’ll happen to my pet.
10. What about the house.
Not one of them mentioned love, friendship, or simply sexual attraction. And many people I still ask don’t give any really different answers, check it out.
I must admit that this still amazes me, remembering that my father taught me it isn’t important where you go, but rather with whom - and I always repeat this to myself at moments of truth - which are rapidly increasing. Once again, this is true of politics, about who you make love with and with whom you make architecture, to which the concept of containment is fundamental, and I don’t mean answer number 10.
Containment is a process of setting boundaries for the purpose of control, about which we wrote a profound article, and I recommend you dive into it, not just because I wrote it with my characteristic modesty... but also thanks to the fact that it’s there I reveal what differentiates buildings from other containers, as well as the fact that most people stay in the same physical space, but not always in the same mental one.
And once again, thanks to Rochi who keeps encouraging me, Claudia who contains, and Yogev for his patience – in the end, I will also know how to play the guitar.
architect dr. ami ran
living on a quarterly basis
One hundred issues – 7 articles in each - Hebrew and English = 1,400 articles on a subject that can be summed up by one good building, one bad building, and everything in between. Twenty-six years, 9,360 work days (not including Saturdays and holidays), 10 cups of coffee a day, 30 French pastries, 10 Israeli wafers. 10,000 divine eggs with Arab salad, three million phone-calls to subscribers, a similar number to advertisers, many, many compliments for our persistence, quite a few complaints - "why his and not mine”; my name is written with an "E" not "I"; and why couldn’t the courier wait until the puddle dries…”
The story began twenty-six years ago in a small office in Netanya. For the first two years we managed to convince subscribers that a quarterly is every four months... and in the third year, our father died. The country was painfully shallow in architectural theory, and the most profound article on the subject was the bi-annual statistical publication telling the number of paternal-households - at that time they didn’t know much about maternal ones.
Just back from London University with a master's degree, I was charged as a wild horse with theoretical energies - God knows what I’d have done without a serious magazine to free my reins. With Ruchi, who agreed to be my wife, and Udi, who agreed to be my brother, we established the Eighth Wonder - an independent magazine, that refuses to publish articles on behalf of, not ashamed to criticize our subscribers buildings, and has managed to survive despite, or maybe thanks to, for a quarter of a century, and our pen is still slanted in the right direction, at least as we see it.
My father taught me not to fear anything except malice combined with stupidity, liars and hypocrites. Even when you do things that may seem impossible, he said, it’s enough that you’re excited for it to eventually happen. I remember him explicitly telling us, go for it, it's worth the effort. Unfortunately, he died at the ninth issue and didn’t know how much effort it takes to live on a quarterly basis - first month to invent, the second to write and photograph, and the third to layout, edit, translate, edit, modify, edit, translate… until you feel it’s good enough to satisfy the spectrum of readers so laboriously collected through the years, although many of them are certain they’d do my job far better. For them (and for me) I wrote the following lines:
I live on a quarterly basis
survive slowly but surely
sustained by the pouch of optimism
burned into my shoulder by father who said
go, son, get far,
away from the racing crowd
Here and there you will meet scum
pay no attention, they’re only signposts,
slopes you descend
to climb back up
From him I learned
mountains drip nectar
when hills rejoice
And that’s quite a lot
on a quarterly basis
Mother, who lasted until issue 84, used to ask every time “Have you published the book yet?” Not that she didn’t know it was only a Journal, but because it seemed to her like a parting of the sea, and every time she hoped that God would help us cross it.
Not everyone knows, because some have already died, but in order to publish the first issue, we met with all architects working in the country at the time; between five and ten offices a day, where we saw handmade presentations, drawings, designs and cardboard maquettes. It was exhausting and instructive, but the conclusion was unequivocal - there really was no such thing as an architecture of Israel, and thinking there should be one, we gave the journal this name, raising quite a few eyebrows. Today we reach all corners of the earth, and the Israeli magazine ranks among the top ten of its kind in the world.
This issue presents work by four architectural firms that reflect the state of architecture in Israel compared to other countries: David Nofar on Nachlat Yitzhak, Gidi Bar-Orian on Rothschild Boulevard, Livay-Dvoriansky in Raanana, and Hagy Belzberg in Los Angeles.
Architect Dr. Ami Ran