This unique residential tower is anchored to Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv’s White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The neighborhood is filled with thousands of Bauhaus buildings dating back to the 1930’s and 1940’s, designed by German Jewish architects who began immigrating to Israel before WWII. The Boulevard is a gracious civic and cultural promenade that cuts through the White City under a beautiful urban canopy of shade trees, and populated with a vibrant variety of restaurants, street cafes, and espresso pavilions. Rothschild Tower is a simple graceful 42 story residential tower lightly resting on a retail base. The design is inspired by Bauhaus principles that were based on functionality and a certain sparseness or economy of means using modern mass produced materials, and in this case a repetitive planning module. The fundamental considerations that shape the tower design are the quality of light in the plan, views to the city and sea, an efficient assembly of “served” and “service” spaces around the core, and the building’s relationship with the existing fabric and massing on Rothschild Boulevard. Lightness and transparency of the tower and base are the primary goals, not only to reduce the apparent scale and mass in the context of the low to mid-rise neighborhood, or the scale-less reflective towers in the area, but to express the optimism, openness, and energy of the more secular modern character of Tel Aviv. The delicate louver screen is an elegant white “veil,” inspired by the ventilated protective layers of more traditional Middle Eastern clothing. It both defines and obscures the distinction between the public image of the building and the private realm within. The louver elements of the screen protect the delicate clear glass skin, and have local architectural precedents in the ubiquitous “treeseem”, the sliding louver blinds enclosing open air porches or negative spaces so common in the existing neighborhood Bauhaus buildings. The Lobby and Retail spaces are spare, lofty, and open to the surrounding streets and neighborhood. Behind the tower a former through-block retail arcade is being restored to its former glory to firmly embed the building and its residents in the pulse of the neighborhood. At the larger scale of the city, the lightness and transparency of the tower will distinguish it rather dramatically among the impersonal glass or heavy neighboring towers, and perhaps inspire sustainable approaches to a more “accessible” character for large buildings in this climate in the future.
Photo credits: Roland Halbe.