Research category

Research category


The book ?Living Forms - Architecture and Society in Israel? is a collection of 14 articles viewing architecture as a social product, rather than solely a design discipline. Initially intended as a textbook for architecture students, the book includes a number of published research papers, accompanied by purpose-oriented articles.

As such, it may serve as an academic journey among common forms of housing in Israel: entrepreneur building of apartment houses, estates, suburban neighborhoods, private houses in build-it-yourself neighborhoods, nouveau-riche villas, and residential towers.

The book consists of four parts: the first deals with the ethnic, national and class identity of specific forms of housing; the second - with the impact of social processes in the housing market over the last decades; the third - the struggle of residents to adapt institutional forms of housing to their own needs; and the fourth - the various ways in which architecture expresses diverse ideologies.

Most articles allude to the privatization process that Israel has undergone in the last three decades, through tectonic, esthetic or social analysis of building for a particular segment of the population. The architectural forms studied reflect different approaches and interests, mirroring Israeli society.

Among the issues dealt with: the role of the sheltered spaces in the development of the Israeli house (Amir, Cohen); the borrowing of foreign visual content in the search for local identity (Amir); social interpretation of the BIY phenomenon (Hadas Shadar); public housing as a site for cultural confrontations (Haim Ya?acobi); new forms of residential building in Arab settlements (Hana Farah); public housing (Naomi Meishar); and Jewish settlement in former Arab villages (Yehutal Shapira).

As a collection of articles of strong social orientation, the book may contribute to the expansion of the architectural discourse into various fields of research.


What does a congenitally blind person do when he sets out for the first time to discover one of Tel Aviv?s colorful neighborhoods? How will he categorize the characteristic sounds of the place? Or in other words - what is the relation between architecture and its sonic impact?

Although we are equipped with at least five senses, our eyes are considered central to familiarization with the surroundings. It is with good reason that most cultures use expressions such as ?I won?t believe it till I see it?, ?Better to see it than to hear it?, or ?Don?t believe what you hear till you see for yourself?.

All this notwithstanding, the relation between architecture and sound was considered an essential planning factor in various periods. The Greek forum, the Roman theater, opera halls, and churches of all times were actually planned around acoustics and sound quality. One reason was that sonic communication was always attributed mystic significance, conveying direct and indirect religious messages.

This work aims to pinpoint the characteristics of sound-space - to formulate the principles of its architectural design, deliberately sidestepping engineering aspects.

Theoretical engagement in sound-space was accelerated during the 1950s under the prominent influence of composer John Cage, followed in the 60s by composer Raymond Schafer, who coined the term ?sound-space?. Central to this was the study of sound factors in a given place, and their categorization into positive and negative. The term was later on copied to other fields such as cinema, industrial design, fashion and multi-media - with architecture serving as the spatial platform.

Developed in the 50s, electronic music added great variety to sound-space - both in the sound quality and in the novelty of new instruments. Parallel to this, the Phenomenological approach entered the picture, emphasizing the experience of space as the one-off product of its sensory features. Subsequently, the theoretical debate promoted the sound experience and turned it into a vital component of space design. It was within

this framework that the term ?sound-scape? (the spatial design of sound- space) began to develop, especially in avant-garde buildings based on advanced technologies, such as in Le Corbusier?s Philips Pavilion (1958), and Alvaro Siza?s Serpentine Pavilion at Kensington Gardens (2005).

This practice can be interpreted as a declared attempt to narrow the gap between architecture and other disciplines in which the quality of sound has long been central to the debate. However, so far there is no critical survey of the literature dealing with sound-spaces, nor is there any applicable methodology offering an interdisciplinary approach with architecture at the center.

Marshall Mcluhan?s theory claimed that in modern times there is a movement from audio space to visual space, but nowadays it seems that this process is being reversed. Here and there, experimental efforts have been made to break through the boundaries of conventional sound-space, yet the electronic means that have developed rapidly over the last few years, and particularly the personal gadgets, have privatized public sound space, thereby diminishing the possibility of controlling it by a deliberate design.

Aimed at establishing a starting point, the work identifies 15 parameters related to sound- space: structural diagram; audio perception; interaction; sound event; time dimension; zeit geist; memory and association; sounds of nature; orientation; esthetics; labeling of space; mood; experience; spirituality; and semiotics. One of the first findings was that with the increase in the number of factors, the dependence between space, sounds and listener grows.

Aided by these parameters, 30 architectural events were studied - out of which were gleaned 5 representative sound spaces: the building, pavilion, installation, urban space, and virtual space. Correlation of the theoretical terms and their employment as actual design tools has enabled the researcher to determine the degree of convergence around a given feature, as a measurement of its significance in the design of sound-space. The initial strategy was to ?observe? the sound-space and search for its vocal meaning, i.e. - how the configurative features of the sound influence the space, and vice versa - what values and meanings are associated with a given space, and what ties people to a particular sound-space.

One of the achievements was the development of a design language composed of recurring features of a sound-space: dynamic structure; immersion; cooperation between architect and composer; interactivity; and audio aids.

Analysis of the model suggests that the role of sound as a space initiator proceeds in parallel on three planes - the idea, the mode of expression, and the form of the architectural product. Hence, the processes of creating a sound-space are concurrent both with the conceptual dimension and the practical one.

The work has contributed to the understanding of sound-space, and to consolidating the place of architecture in designing sound-space in the ?ipod generation?.

multi dimensional ARCHITECTURE in an endless virtual reality Dr. Margot Krasovjevic, Bartlett, UCL

Virtual space nowadays plays an important role in all aspects of life. Economics, medicine, science and municipal administration have gone a long way in this realm which vastly affects our lives: the cellular phone that won?t let us get lost, the reservoirs of knowledge fed unfiltered by indiscriminate sources both true and false, bluff identities offered freely in the Internet, and digitization that lends novel insights far from being fathomed by the human mind.

This work suggests using insights of the multi-dimensional endless virtual world to broaden the limitations of architecture, which is, as yet, perceived in 3D by the human mind.

The use of simulators to practice unpredictable situations goes back to the 1920s, when pilots were trained to react instinctively to unforeseen situations. The assumption that automatic response improves the brain?s functioning and broadens its horizons is manifest today in the superb mastery kids and youth demonstrate in the computer world, to the extent that video games taking place in imagination-enhanced realities subsequently turn into working tools in the real world.

Although many other fields such as astronomy, biotechnology and space engineering have already comprehended the advantages of multi- dimensional space, architecture has been left in the hands of ?experienced? veterans, who still base their planning on data surmised from concrete phenomena. Here and there ?virtual? attempts have been recruited to improve the performance of conventional functions, however, the results so far lead mainly to meaningless ?bizarre? configurations.

The message of this work is that architecture today must adapt its activity to a reality that is no longer limited to the real world. This is evident in many functions which until recently solely belonged to architecture, and can now do without it - to wit, interpersonal encounters conducted virtually in spaces free of place and time.

Science, which aims to interpret the order of things, actually operates by perception-based intuition. That is, we count ?knowledgeable? only those things whose existence we are aware of. Conversely, that which we do not experience is considered unscientific. However, the fact that we do not experience all realities does not negate the theoretical possibility of their existing. Kant claimed in this respect that the limitations of knowledge derive from the human mind?s inability to free itself of a 3D frame of reference. For conceptual ideas to be considered real, he said, the mind needs to provide them with a conceptual basis not contained in real world approaches. Such a conceptual basis could include time- and space-based circumstances not created by the human mind.

The accepted explanation of real space is its being an integral part of the universe, i.e. a system of dimensions in which exist objects of various forms and sizes. Virtual space, on the other hand, being a purely informative product, is not limited to concrete forms, and is thereby free of the restrictions of conventional dimensions.

The most well-known conceptual space is ?cyberspace? - a virtual reality comprised of clouds of data floating between unknown users of the Net. Fed by millions of sources of information, this space is not actually subject to any one approach. Cyberspace has no doors or windows, it is free of gravity laws, and its ever-changing form is not an identifiable product of the human mind but rather an independent multi-dimensional entity free of boundaries. Although anyone can partake in creating cyberspace, it is a conceptual being that no human mind can imagine.

The literal meaning of ?dimension? in Latin is ?measured out?, i.e. one parameter or more needed to describe the form or location of a given object in space. In the real world this usually refers to length, width and height.

For instance, to describe the location of a city on a map only two dimensions are needed - latitude and longitude. To describe the location of a plane we have to add its altitude. However, to describe the location of a plane relative to other moving bodies at least another three dimensions are needed (Euler angles), since the plane not only alters its location relative to a concrete place, but also undermines the absoluteness of time.

There are a number of theories pertaining to the amount of dimensions existing in conceptual space. Each discipline defines its own dimensions relevant to the context in which they appear. In other words, time and space which exist on one plane are not subject to the rules existing on another plane. For instance, to explain Superstring Theory one should need nine dimensions. But if we want to describe the occurrences creating cyberspace, we shall need an endless number of dimensions.

In the past it was customary to think that real and conceptual space could be distinguished with the aid of Euclidean geometry, which assumes that two parallel lines never meet, versus non-Euclidean geometry, which is based on multi-dimensional hyperbolic forms. Today, however, it is quite clear that one must also consider analytic geometry, which deals with abstract forms such as fractals made of endless patterns of recurring forms in infinite scale.

The importance of this lies in the fact that we need non-conventional means to describe such forms. In other words - while dimensions are used to describe the physical world, informative parameters are sufficient to describe conceptual realities.

In light of this, it is quite logical to assume that the multi-dimensional conceptual geometry of virtual realities may serve as a platform to expand the boundaries of architecture, creating multi-dimensional boundary-less structures, far beyond the limited conception of the human mind.


Osnat Rosen-Kremer

The notion that the image of a city is built of the conception of its identifiable architectural components was advocated in the 60s by the Space Perception Theory (Kevin Lynch). In the rating era of today, images are created by messages and slogans thrown incessantly into the air by the media, with no necessary connection between them and reality. The vast knowledge accumulated in this field is exploited for manipulation by bodies of interest, which directly or covertly influence the images that comprise the picture of the city. As Boyer put it, when the media is the message, deceptions create a ?hyper-visual? city.

In this framework architecture has a key role, not only in constructing the city?s image but also, and especially, in marketing it as a salable product. Examples can be found in cities such as Tel-Aviv that in the 80s became the ?Non-Stop City? or Kfar-Saba which became known as the ?City of Arches? in the 70s, due to the regulation that forced architects to plan arches on every facade.

The study pinpoints some of the central imaging slogans of Haifa, and examines their impact on the development of the city, in particular on the building along the coast. The assumption is that various expressions that trickled into the collective awareness granted the city new images that served to promote real-estate transactions or political ambitions.

The Carmel mountain range is known in the Bible as a fertile agriculture area, with vineyards and grazing (?and the Carmel as a forest will be seen? - Isiah, 29, 17). And as such it is perceived in modern times as well (?the ever-green mountain? - Yoram Teharlev, 1993). This green image has, in turn, influenced the development of the image of the ?Carmel City?, and has been nurtured for years by its leaders: the Templars who planted pine trees there in abundance; its legendary mayor Abba Hushi, who conducted a strict policy of preserving the landscape and protecting the beaches as leisure sites; and the Bahai gardens spreading down the hillside, identified with the city.

The different waves of immigration and the ma?apilim, who arrived in Israel through Haifa port, granted the city the images of ?Gateway to Zion? and ?Gate of Aliyah?. Herzl described the future Haifa in his book ?Altneuland? as a ?modern European city on the slopes of the Carmel down to the blue sea, adorned with attractive buildings and a large international port?. All this (according to Herzl) ?will be made possible thanks to City Architect Steineck?s ?building orders? that will fill it with life?.

In his optimistic vision Herzl actually compared Haifa to the ?Sleeping Beauty? - waiting for the architectural planning to awaken her from her slumber. Since then, various interested parties have aspired to play the role of the ?prince?, who is to awaken the city whose worker residents (according to David Broza?s song) ?go to bed at ten?.

However, many planning efforts have often been perceived as threatening the historic connection between the mountain and the sea, to wit - an initiative in the 70s intended to improve the city?s image including the development of the coast line. Within this, the beaches were upgraded, a promenade was constructed in Bat-Galim, and a master-plan was approved to build six apartment-hotel towers on the Carmel Beach, with the first tower planned as a post-modern symbol of the ?Gate of the Sea?, corresponding to the historic images mentioned.

After an indifferent decade, however, it was subsequently revealed by the greens to be ?a wall along the sea?, and ?a division between the mountain and the sea?. This ?revelation? quickly became a hot media item, in the center of which stood the renewed idealization of the image of ?the green city?.

From here on, the attack against the Carmel Beach Tower, a trigger toward promoting the Law of the Beaches, was exploited to the hilt. In 2001, (green) architect Shmulik Gelbhart, set out to defend the city against ?the monster?, and called the public to vote him into the city council. And soon after, his faction adopted the hotel silhouette as its symbol, expressing their success at preventing the completion of the other towers.

The heinous towers have not only served the sea-mountain continuum issue, but have functioned successfully in other contexts as well. So, for instance, in 2002 they helped convey social messages in Amram Mitzna?s mayor campaign, while in 2004-5 they were a ?finger?, ?blood stain? and ?fist? raised against the poor neighborhood across the road. The confrontation points then drifted north along the coast over to Bat-Galim Beach, and from there to the harbor and Haifa port, with nicknames such as ?concrete headstone? or ?real-estate sharks? each time employed by a different interested party.


e succession of images of the city has grown, from one fairy tale to another, till reaching the science fiction genre a la Jules Verne, whereby a green-bannered knight predicts a dark future for the entire city. He christens the ?mysterious? building planned by the Navy a ?creature from hell?, and presents it as a black board landing from outer space, reminiscent of the monolith in the science fiction film ?2001 Space Odyssey?, only this time as a ?Chinese Wall? running along the port breakwaters, preventing residents? access to the sea. The study found that the layers of stories parallel the levels of building, interwoven into the planning initiatives till the telling of the stories has become an integral part of the planning culture of the city, both at the level of decision-making and that of architectural critique. This strategy, employed by architects, entrepreneurs, politicians, green bodies, and planning committee members, has become over time part and parcel of the perception of the city?s collective image.

The case study of Haifa may shed light on a phenomenon that does not skip over other cities. The study suggests a change in the ways of conducting public discourse, through more democratic alternatives that would express, beyond the slogans, a responsible planning policy.

ISRAELI standard for energy-grading of office buildings

Prof. Edna Shaviv, Dr. Avraham Yezioro, Dr. I. Guedi Capeluto Laboratory of Climate and Energy, Faculty of Architecture and Town-Planning, Technion, Haifa, 2008

World awareness of the environment?s dire state has put green architecture high on world agenda. Within this, attempts are made to paint any planning green by some sort of recycling, use of alternative energy, or building with a remote affiliation to nature, even when there is nothing substantial behind it.

To put some order in this state, a new standard for energy-grading of office buildings has been recently approved. The standard focuses on the energy consumption required for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation of offices. Concentrating on the essential energy-saving factors while skipping over the trivial ones, the standard aims at simplifying the process of planning and building.

Statistics from Israel and abroad indicate that about half of the electricity consumption is wasted on artificial alternatives to natural light and climate-adaptation of office buildings. This is why international standards, such as the U.S.A LEED Standard for green building and others across the world, grant the energy issue in offices about one third of the total points for approving a building ?green?.

It is a well known fact that buildings constructed before the invention of air-conditioning demonstrate much more operational savings than those built subsequently. The reason for this is obvious: when there is an easy alternative, awarness of the obvious fades away.

Needless to mention, though, the climate factor has always been central to planning, as well as a sign of the building?s quality. Thus, for instance, the prominent features of the International Style in the 30s-40s were: shading of windows by use of cornices; western porches that protected the large living-room window; an open ground floor which enabled air flow beneath the building; and calculated orientation of the building according to sunbeam radiation and local breezes.

The accelerated use of air-conditioners eventually brought about a belittling attitude toward climate planning, resulting in large shade-less glazed screen walls that function as a hot-house in the summer months. The excessive use of air-conditioners has urban ramifications as well, since they emit heat and humidity to the environment, forcing passers-by to escape to air-conditioned areas, producing a vicious circle. Commonly, two approaches are used for standards: the prescriptive approach, and the functional one. In both, the planner has to select an alternative out of various factors. However, while in the functional approach the planner is expected to check the operational efficiency of the chosen variables throughout all planning stages, the prescriptive approach offers him previously tested models from which he may choose an alternative that suits his needs and circumstances.

As the new Israeli standard is in its initial stages, the Ministry of Infrastructure, which instigated it, has suggested making do for the time being with the prescriptive model, later to serve as the basis for functional ones.

The factors tested for the standard are: orientation of the office and its depth, qualities of the mantle, type and size of windows, shading devices, natural lighting, and ventilation - day and night, in conditions of heat and cold.

There are, obviously, interdependent relations between factors that affect thermal and lighting comfort. Hence, the study examined various alternatives, each accompanied by a test to determine the sensitivity of the solution to changes in each of its components. The standard enables change in more than one component simultaneously, and the overall energy grade of the building is reckoned according to the integrated grade of all the office units, relative to their area, orientation and depth of office.

Eight basic directions were tested in order to determine the grade of orientation. Assuming that the building dimensions are constant while the inner partitions are changeable, the optimal depth for ?good? natural lighting was determined to be 5 m, with depth for 'reasonable' lighting being 8.20 m. The study showed that these two factors have the greatest impact on energy consumption; hence, the standard data relate to four climate zones through 16 graphs correlated to the eight basic directions, for each of the two office depths.

Sun-blocks and light-flaps. External shading contributes to reduction of direct sunlight, but may cause decrease of natural lighting at the same time. To avoid this, it is possible to install a translucent light-flap outside, above the window. It is also advisable to use an automatic sensor to operate dynamic shading devices, thus gaining maximal adjustment to the direction of sunlight respective of the season and hour of the day.

Glazing. The type of glazing has considerable impact on the transfer of radiation - the main cause for using air-conditioners during the summer. The standard recommends using glass whose radiation block is over 50%, provided that sufficient lighting can still penetrate the room. Although higher in cost, this solution is preferable to transparent double-glazing.

Window dimensions. In the ?deep? office (8.20 m.) it is advisable to enlarge the window dimensions, while making use of the radiation-blocking glaze mentioned above. The optimal size of a southern window in the ?shallow? office (5 m.) is advisably between 25% and 35% of the floor area.

Ventilation. It is advisable to ventilate the office naturally via openings in the ceiling, or controlled mechanical means operated by need.

The new standard recommendations are expected to reduce energy consumption by 50%, in comparison to the existing 1045 Standard that is still compulsory; in other words - over 10 billion kilowatt/hour per year that will annually save 5 billion NIS.

In addition, the improvement in thermal comfort may in turn improve quality of work, reduce environmental pollution, and decrease dependency on energy resources.

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