June 9, 2008

Myths and Buildings of Tel Aviv

by Catherine Weill-Rochant

Tel Aviv, a paradox?

In this city of denuded concrete, where the unpleasantness of apparent ugliness always yields to the delights of a stroll, a delight that is more readily associated with more picturesque cities, the question that arises is how to account for this antinomy: how is it that Tel Aviv, such a decrepit city, so disparaged esthetically, can generate so much urbanity? How can a stroll by buildings with their loggias walled up with plastic shutters, facades elevated by hastily built additional stories, walls studded with the fans of air-conditioning units, stilt columns entombed in breeze block, still engender pleasant memories? This question presents even more sharply if one thinks on the contrary of the peculiar sensations of void experienced when touring old neighborhoods like the ones in Jaffa that were expensively renovated। Although entirely restored, repaved and spruced up, they generate no sensation, scant emotion, no sense of place. Here lies one of the crucial questions in city planning: what are the features that make for the ‘success’ of a city? This is probably the question all researchers in the field of urban history must grapple with. Through the study of spatial, social and architectural development, the goal is to find the keys to what make people like a city or hate it, by plunging into the process of its making. This analysis also calls for exploring the culture, the land, and the political situations that affected city growth. Tel Aviv is particularly suited for this type of study. First of all, it presents itself as a clearly identifiable corpus in time and space. It was founded as an independent entity, in 1909, on the dunes to the North-East of Jaffa and expanded during the Mandate period, spreading northwards up to the Yarkon River, westward to the sea, and eastward up to what is now the Ayalon highway. Secondly, this corpus is the result of both an interweaving of tensions with the local situation, and specific external ties: the city was imagined and built by groups of immigrants, vectors of architectural and urban thinking trained in Europe and driven by explicit societal planning on a land already carved up by conflicts. Lastly, Tel Aviv has been promoted and written about internationally, which facilitates an analysis of its image in the collective imagination and the disparities with historical reality revealed through scientific analysis. [...]

Read more : http://bcrfj.revues.org/index672.html

Vous pouvez consulter l’intégralité de ce dossier traduit en langue française sur le site du Centre de recherche français de Jérusalem : http://bcrfj.revues.org/document249.html

Deux ouvrages très intéressants de Catherine Weill-Rochant:
L'Atlas de Tel-Aviv. 1908-2008

Sur les traces du modernisme
Ce guide bilingue, français-hébreu, permet de découvrir, au fil de promenades commentées par des spécialistes, les trois plus importantes villes d’Israël : Tel Aviv, Haïfa et Jérusalem.

©Oleg Chermoshniuk



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