|M.Sc Student||Elhyani Zvi|
|Subject||Oscar Niemeyer and the Outset of Speculative Urbanism in|
Israel after 1960
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Iris Aravot|
|Architect Zvi Efrat|
This historical-architectural study examines the dawning of speculative urbanism in 1960s Israel. It faces the beginnings of large-scale architectural and urban planning, which was influenced by the speculation of real-estate barons. It considers Israel's importance internationally as a testing ground for modernist planning ideas and proposes a key to understanding Israeli built space, which prefers sprawl to density.
At the heart of this research stands the story of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer whose architectural activities in Israel included grandiose plans for exceptionally large buildings in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the Negev. Those mega, vertical and high-densed proposals offered a dramatically different sense of place than the small scaled, horizontal and low-densed Genius Loci the Zionist Movement wished to produce.
Niemeyer arrived in Israel as the guest of entrepreneur Yekutiel Federmann, who was looking to up the value of two recently acquired plots, one on Mount Carmel in Haifa (later Panorama Center) and the other in the Nordia neighborhood of Tel Aviv (later Dizengof Center). Niemeyer stayed in Israel for six months, during which time he was involved in planning a dozen private, commercial and governmental projects throughout the country.
Niemeyer recorded his impressions of the socialist Zionist enterprise and Israel’s natural scenery in his diary, as well as his vehement criticism of Israeli planning conceptions, which he regarded as low and sprawling. Virtually all his proposals for Israeli buildings addressed what he saw as Israel’s adolescent architectural identity crisis: hesitation between the modern and the vernacular, the urban and the agrarian, the horizontal and the vertical.