Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tel Aviv, the Bauhaus Period

Urban planner Patrick Geddes had a unique opportunity in 1925, design a city which would actually be built. After the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which supported the concept of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the pace of Zionist immigration picked up. In the early 1930's, threats from the Nazi Party accelerated immigration to the British controlled Palestine. The British Mandate extended from the defeat of the Ottomans in 1917, to the Israeli Independence in 1948.
Among those fleeing Germany were students of Bauhaus movement in architecture, the unity of form and function, expressed in ways that were modern, simple and sparse. The reinforced low-rise concrete buildings curved around traffic circles and corners.

Between 1930 and 1939 both the migration and construction continued at a steady pace. The population had reached 200,000.
There was a unity in the planning and architecture seen no where else. Like any modern growing city, the the buildings have changed. Smaller, older buildings have been replaced with modern skyscrapers. Tel Aviv still remains the largest collection of Bauhaus buildings in the world.
Bauhaus architecture was concerned with the social aspects of design and with the creation of a new form of social housing for workers. This may be just another one of the reasons it was embraced in the newly evolving city of Tel Aviv, at a time when socialist ideas were so prevalent. This style of architecture came about (in part) because of new engineering developments that allowed the walls to be built around steel or iron frames. This meant that walls no longer had to support the structure, but only enveloped it – from the outside. Called The White City, because of the white painted buildings, it is now a World Heritage Site.

Background and Coverage of the Tel Aviv Soccer Derby
reprinted from molovinsky on allentown

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Promise Kept

Irena Sendler was 30 in 1940, when the 400,000 Jews of Warsaw were herded into the ghetto and sealed off in the first step of the plan to exterminate them. In late 1942, after 280,000 had been deported to the death camp Treblinka, Sendler and others formed Zegota, a Polish underground council to aid the Jews. Sendler's heart-rending mission, was to explain to a Jewish mother, that the only possible way to save her child was to give the boy or girl over to her. She promised that after the war she would try to reunite the families. The children were secreted in convents, orphanages and with Polish families. Captured by the Nazi's and tortured, she was freed by the underground on her way to be executed. She had put the name of each child on a slip of paper, and buried them in a jar for safekeeping. After the war she did attempt to reunite the families, but almost all the parents had perished. Irena Sendler's remarkable courage has become widely known because of ninth grade school project in Kansas, Life in a Jar.

reprinted from molovinsky on allentown, May 25, 2011