|Ph.D Student||Handel Dan|
|Subject||Isotropic Universe and Modular Grid: Economy and Space|
in the Tefen Model, 1979-1991
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Alona Nitzan-Shiftan|
|Full Thesis text|
During the 1970s and 1980s, architect Moshe Zarhy and his firm developed in Tefen a series of experimental buildings for industrialist Stef Wertheimer, based on the latter’s ambition to introduce a new liberal model for Israeli industry.
This work considers the Tefen Model as a testing ground for economic space - a sphere in which space and economy interact in order to accommodate mutual needs. This sphere challenges the idea that space is merely the outcome of economic decisions.
This study proposes to re-evaluate histories of Israeli planning and architecture through the lens of economic space. In the first chapter I review an intellectual history of regional planning, starting in Germany with the development of theories that sought to anchor economic processes in space and location. I follow the transfer of this body of knowledge to Israel in the 1950s, evident in the work of planners Eliezer Brutzkus and Artur Glikson and in the first national masterplan, and then again in the 1970s, in the work of Technion trained planners influenced by Moshe Hill and Nathaniel Lichfield, These two phases encapsulate an ideological watershed between two generations of planners. The chapter then outlines the influence of these ideas on the Tefen Model, planned by Harry Brand. I then follow the materialization of the Tefen model as a triad based on an industrial base, a new settlement, and the experimental industrial garden in a context of political transitions and complex planning ecosystem.
The second chapter, which focuses on architecture, begins with the development of Neue Sachlichkeit modernism in Europe, and follows its influence on Israeli architecture, manifest in notions of matter-of-factness and efficiency. The chapter then highlights the critique of these notions in the 1960s and 1970s, preparing the ground for the demand for even more efficiency. The chapter follows the professional trajectories of figures promoting the efficiency goal, among them architects Harry Brand and Moshe Zarhy who cooperated with Wertheimer in Tefen. As a result, I argue that both plans and buildings in Tefen stem from spatializing economic thinking. The research then follows shift to turnkey structures, which challenged the basic assumptions of the early Tefen Model, bringing to an end a decade of experimentation.
These histories are accompanied by a detailed analysis of the architecture on site, focusing on the building envelope. I argue that this architecture presented many innovations while reincarnating an Israeli architectural tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit. Following that, I propose to consider projects that remained at the periphery of the architectural discourse, and outline a historiographic path that adds the economic realm to that of national identity and architectural style which shaped Israeli architectural history so far. Studying these histories also allows us to ask what can the Tefen Model teach us on the relationships between space and economy in the dramatic transformation to neoliberal economic regime. The work argues that for Israeli architecture Tefen embodied both the potential of that historical moment and the disciplinary weaknesses which will become evident in the following decades.