Editorial- Not In the Footsteps Of the Elephants

Not in the footsteps of the elephants

He who follows the elephant needs no path (ancient Ashanti proverb).


But, in the absence of elephants, we must seek alternatives. When I undertook the mission to select projects to represent the achievements of Israeli architecture, my first reaction was 'No problem, we shall follow the elephants'.


And then it dawned on me that most of the elephants are no longer with us,and that the footprints they left have no relevance. Not the International Style borrowed from Europe in the 1930s, nor the ugly housing projects of the 1950s, and not the Brutalist monsters that invaded us in the 1960sand 1970s. And surely not the Post that we so blindly imitated in the1980s. 'No doubt, ' I concluded, 'the mission is not easy; the young elephants are not yet marching confidently, and where theyre heading to is not quite clear.' But as one who is closely related to the Nature of Things, I think I have managed to locate the path along which they are finding their way.


It is no secret that as we approach the new millennium, the architecture of the western world is going astray, not knowing where its heading. While the avant-gardists produce environmental statues instead of houses, the foot-soldiers are shy of creating conventional architecture.  Yet within the maze one perceives a definite movement, a return to a 'localism' which distinguishes one place from another and emphasizes uniqueness. There is a new localism which understands that the world is not a global village,and surely not a sculpture garden full of symbols, disconnected from the basic essence of architecture - that is to supply a roof over ones head,to enable life, to connect between people, and to give expression to their aspirations.


I had a dream. I had a dream that there would come a day that the Light unto the Nations would come from Israeli architecture, too. Today, it seems, we are getting nearer. Like in the killing fields of science,medicine and technology, Israeli architects are battle-experienced;they have earned their stripes in making mistakes - ideal conditions for the creation of a learned architecture.


The exhibition 'Encounters - the vernacular paradox in Israeli architecture' now travelling all over the world, consumes the greater part of this issue dedicated to the jubilee of the State of Israel. Maybe there are no elephant tracks, but the exhibit expresses a clear and correct connection to the place. Israeli architecture is embarking on a new journey, the main characteristic of which is a gentle footstep which does not crush underfoot, and  which leaves room for what is to follow.


On this festive occasion, a small apology is due. My determination to focus on locality prevented the inclusion of other worthy projects such as advanced building technologies, innovative materials and artistic compositions. I beg the pardon of their architects, but surely, they will be included in other exhibitions.

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