Curiosity

CURIOSITY

 

 

            FIRST OF ALL

            Scandal in Bat Yam.  City Hall, constructed in the early 1960s and a landmark of Israeli architecture, has lost its crowning glory. The lightshafts have been obliterated from its roof. The City Engineer, Liora Stoller, claims that due to protracted crumbling of the structures, and on recommendation of a consulting engineer, the lightshafts are beyond restoration. 'They are liable to pose a risk to the public this winter...'. The lightshafts, made of triangular sheets of 10 cm thick reinforced concrete, are the characteristic feature of the building. From an architectural standpoint, removing them is equivalent to dousing the Statue of Libertys torch. The effrontery recalls the stupid demolition of the Gymnasia Herzliya and the laying waste of Dizengoff Circle. To replace the lightshafts, it was decided to pour flat concrete ('Anyway, they cant be seen from the street...'). Interestingly, no one bothered to ask the advice of architect Zvi Hecker (there was no answer from the late Eldar Sharon and Alfred Neumann) and to see if the structure could not be restored somehow. After all, it is common knowledge among those who read newspapers that even crumbling cathedrals have been restored. Therefore, brethren, awake, lest it become too late. This incident is a clear indication Bat Yam Municipality is not yet mature enough to preserve its (few) architectural assets - and in matters of conservation at least - it should be deprived of the right to decide.

 

    PRIZES AND COMPETITIONS

            The Praemium Imperiale Laureates – a prize for excellence in the arts, awarded for the tenth year in succession by the Emperor of Japan – is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world, addressing, as it were, additional subjects on the level of the Nobel Prize. Each year, international committees of experts select candidates from five areas: painting, sculpture, architecture, theater and film, and music. This years prizewinners are: Alvero Siza in architecture; Israeli artist Dani Karavan in sculpture; Robert Rouschenberg in painting; Richard Attenborough in theater and film; and Sophia Gubaidulina in music. The ceremony was held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on October 29, 1998. Dani Karavan is already accustomed to getting prizes from abroad; nevertheless, he deserves congratulations. (Reported by Siona Shimshi)

     Rumors are circulating about a competition by invitation (addressed only to three architectural offices) for the redesign of the Tel Aviv wholesale produce market. The initiative looks like an election stunt staged by some municipality (identity withheld).There is still a chance to stop this scandal and open the competition to population of architects in its entirety. Everyone deserve a chance at the cream (and, speaking of cream, the management of Israels national dairy company 'knows nothing about the initiative'). Architects Association, take heed!

            A public competition for the design of the Haifa Central Library has been announced. The competition includes the library building, a commercial public building and all of the open public area in Ramat Hadar, a total of 11,000 sq.m. The last date for submission of proposals is January 17, 1999. The selected proposal will receive a $10,000 prize. The first-place submissions which do not get the job will be given consolation prizes of up to $5,000. It is still not clear why the right of 'clients option' is also given to public officeholders and why the Architects Association does nothing about it. Public competitions - the only chance to refresh the ranks - should be free of political interests. For details, please call the Architects Association, tel. 03-5240274.

            A commercial competition for design of an executive desk held by Oranim Silencer Office Furniture, was won by designers Eylon Armon of Tel Aviv and Joe Avisar of Ashdod. One hundred and seventy architects and designers took part; this impressive number indicates how terribly thirsty Israel is for competitions. The use of competition as a means of developing new ideas is customary throughout the world; its about time it became established here as well. The first prize, NIS 18,000, is a rather good beginning. Nine works received commendations; others were given the title of 'Project with a Smile' because of their humorous content. According to the Managing Director of the organizing company, Roni Adi, the intention is to make this competition into an annual tradition, in order to encourage original designs which can compete with imported ideas - and that in itself is a worthy cause.

            'Godzillas' in Tel Aviv. Billboards are an important element shaping the image of any city - for better or for worse. Thus, for example, the marketers of the film 'Godzilla' designed extremely tasteful signs for walls and buses in New York. We in Israel prefer 'portraits'... As Israels municipal elections approach, the same phenomenon is 'beautifying' Israels cities, especially the large ones. The three leading candidates for Mayor of Tel Aviv each made an extraordinary effort. Each promises (in his own way) to improve the environment. Whereas in other cities (Givatayim, Ashdod) campaign posters are relegated to special boards which will later be stored away until the next elections, there is no mercy in Tel Aviv. The befouling faces are plastered onto every available square centimeter. It would be interesting to know how much pollution one must commit in order to be elected. People, arent you ashamed of yourselves?! (Photography and tip-off courtesy of Siona Shimshi)

 

            And in the same vein... The 'certain' candidate in the Tel Aviv municipal elections, Ron Huldai, has already decided that his own intended 'dandarin' (City Engineering Administer) should be architect Israel Goodovitch. The candidacy of the renowned architect, who has already presented his far-ranging plan for solving the citys traffic problems, is perplexing to many. After all, weve almost become accustomed to the militant approach presented by the 'Holy Trinity' of Milo-Darin-Yoskovich. It is quite probable that, when Goodovitch is appointed to this important role, he will see the picture through more moderate eyes, and will even learn the secrets of the computer, which he now says frightens him, within a short time. Its already obvious that hell do everything possible to stop the city in its no-holds-barred rush toward architectural suicide, 'Tel Aviv will no longer be a pool of real estate'. Among other things, he intends to reduce the number of bus lines going into the 'Old City' (the area constructed according to Patrick Geddes plan between the sea and Ibn Gvirol Street) from 63 to three, and to remove the Dan bus companys parking lot from the Carmel Market area. Goodovitch explained that he intends to halt all construction along the shoreline, to conserve Hayarkon Park and to help conserve and restore areas of Tel Aviv already slated for demolition (Sarona, Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv Port). This along is a good reason to hope Huldai gets the chance to appoint him.

 

            EXHIBITIONS

            Landmarks: The '50 Years of Israeli Sculpture' exhibition is now running at the Open Museum in Teffen, along with the permanent collection. For details, please call 04-9872977.

            Midlife: An exhibition of photographs by a 40-year-old woman expresses a central subject of our lives - nudity. Photographer Malka Inbal, in her fifth exhibition, photographed a woman from all possible angles, dressing her body in reflections of herself, all in glaring colors which express an 'outcry'. The exhibition took place in En Hod and closed on November 4, 1998.

            The Genya Schreiber University Art Gallery has initiated an exhibition of homage to architect Moshe Safdie, whose activity, starting in the mid-1960s, and has left its impression throughout the world. The exhibition focuses on museums designed by Safdie in Canada, the United States, Europe and Israel, such as the National Gallery in Ottawa, the Art Museum in Montreal, the Culture Museum in Quebec, a Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the Science Museum in Wichita, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, the Childrens Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Commemoration Center in Jerusalem, Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, the Paley Youth Wing of the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, and the redesign of the museum compound at Yad Vashem. The exhibition will be open to the public on Sundays through Thursdays, between 11:00 and 19:00, until December 22, 1998. It will then move to the National Science, Design and Technology Museum in Haifa, where it will run from February 1 to April 30, 1999. A symposium on 'Museum Architecture', with the participation of Moshe Safdie and other Israeli architects and academics, will be held at Tel Aviv University on December 10, 1998.

 

            PROJECTS

            Technoda Museum, Netanya

           

            About three years ago, it was decided to erect a Science Museum in Netanya. To this end, an old 1950s school building in the Neot Herzl neighborhood was allocated, and a small budget was provided for its conversion. The steering committee formulated a program oriented toward the world of medicine. As the budgetary limitations called for original thinking, the design was quite successful: while the outside walls remain unchanged, a mantle of steel, stainless steel and glass bubbles gives the structure a really innovative look. The new entry space is emphasized by pigmented plaster, which creates visual tension against the metal mantle. The internal walls were taken down to create a flowing free space between the colorful activity stations. The floors and stairs were coated in multicolored PVC, iron and granite; a 'glass bubble' obtrudes to the outside, enabling visitors to view the interesting architectural exercise. Well done! Now the only thing left to do is to improve the miserable appearance of the neighborhood.

 

 

Architects: Jospe-Sher

            Woman Woman - a shop at Azrieli Mall

            One of the marketing tricks implemented at the new Azrieli Mall was the creation of as many shops as possible through the use of long, narrow stores, posing an architectural challenge to the interior designers. One interesting solution can be seen in the 'Woman Woman' shop, the flagship of the chain. Its 'sausage-shaped' space is split by display facilities set up at an angle and creating a continuum of unique sub-spaces. In order to establish a 'presence' in the exceptionally narrow facade, the shop window is made of friendly materials - wood and glass, with controlled exposure of the display facilities, which constitute an integral part of the window exhibits. The display facilities resemble individual wardrobes, from which the customer selects her clothing. The dressing spaces are composed of two elliptical wooden bodies and lengths of cloth. The light, monotonous color scheme conveys intimacy, leaving the 'show' to the special forms.

 

Design: I. Design - Inbal Reif

 

            STUDENTS

 

            As the interval since the last issue of AI was occupied by the summer vacation, not much material about students has come in. On the other hand, we should remember that the current nationwide student rebellion over tuition fees means much more than a few thousand New Israel Sheqels for architecture. It is reasonable to assume that, young as they are, few students have heard of 'Danny the Red' - the Jewish student who led the French student revolt in the late 1960s. That revolt, let us recall, led to a social revolution in Western Europe and indirectly caused architecture to become a means of expression used in the transmission of social messages (critical regionalism).

            In any event, the exhibition marking the end of the school year at the Department of Architectural Design at WIZO College in Haifa presented, among other things, works on the subject of 'An Israeli-Jordanian Complex on the Jordan River'. In view of the recently signed agreement which has restarted the peace process with the Palestinians, it seems reasonable to present here four particularly interesting works: the Peace Studies Center designed by Arthur Kisselensky; the Jordanian-Israeli Youth Education and Activity Center designed by Shirli Alon; 'Objects Moved by Water in the Jordan Riverbed', designed by Ido Shenhar; and 'Maritime Museum' designed by Barak Shamgar.

 

            READERS WRITE US

 

            Following the article 'In Memory of Gymnasia Herzliya, Dizengoff Circle and Keren Kayemet Boulevard', which warned of plans to destroy the Sarona Colony (Issue 34), architect Aryeh Kinsbrunner of Givatayim writes:

            'Houses are not works unto themselves, but part of an urban tissue which operates as an entire ecological system. If only some of the houses are conserved and scattered among modern buildings, they will be, at most, a curiosity. In order to do justice to the neighborhood, a museum should be established in one of the houses, for the exhibition of photographs, models and other exhibits which will convey the unique atmosphere of place and time.'

 

            Editors Reply

            It would be better to leave the houses standing and send the demolition plans to a museum.

 

And in the same vein... In response to the passages ascribed to City Engineer Baruch Yoskovich, he claims, in a trenchant letter faxed to us at the last minute, that the information given in the article is calumnious and malicious. This is because 'the conservation of the structures was initiated by the Tel Aviv Municipality, in contrast to the position of the Israel Lands Administration, after the approved plans stated that the area was designated for demolition... At that meeting in the corridor, I told you [the editor of AI - R.B.] that I would not comment hastily on such a complicated subject, and that, in my opinion, the matter would be settled after the elections, when a new Mayor is elected.'

            Editors Reply

            The purpose of the article was to achieve deferment of the decision, at least until after the elections; with this, we are content. Rumors state that for the demolition of Jaffa Port, for example, there will be no deferment, and the land is in danger of immediate privatization.

 

See illustrations up to page 65

Thats all for now; see you in the next issue!

CURIOSITY is always pleased to receive information in any relevant area.

Tel.: 03-6471133; fax: 03-6481491





חזרה לגליון 35    back to issue 35