Friday, February 8, 2008


A short wander around the neighbourhood with the missus on Shabbat revealed some architectural jewels like these wonderfully ornate windows on the top floor of an old Arab mansion on Derekh Yaffo. This was formerly a "well house" i.e. the house built next to a well that watered the Arab citrus orchards that flourished here before the 1948 War.

These well houses are the subject of a new exhibition curated by conservation architect (and friend) Amnon Bar Or who is trying to raise awareness of them and promote their conservation. At least one critic from the far left has accused him of accepting the "occupation of 1948" by preserving these Arab Jaffa houses for the use of the "occupying community". Amnon countercharges that by raising awarness of the houses he is also reving "the forgotten past", argues that "I am not appropriating anything" and proposes that the buildings be used "in the service of the communities that live around them".

In this country even the buildings are political.

Here on Lilienblum, a spit from the rooftop, is a lovely, recently renovated, example of the Bauhaus or International Style with its ship's bow balcony and clean, horizontal lines. This house was the home and studio of Avraham Soskin, Tel Aviv foremost photographer in its formative years and was designed by Ze'ev Rechter, a leading practitioner of the International Style in Tel Aviv. Once the symbol of a brave new functional- egalitarian ideology these buildings are now prime real estate and the style is being copied even in new buildings all over town.

And here, also on Lilienblum is an "eclectic style" (pre-Bauhuas) house that has yet to escape a proper renovation and houses a design shop (I think).

Back on Derekh Yaffo we came across this vine (?) trunk stuck into the plaster next to a furniture shop.

Not exactly a jewel but this is the row of art supplies and frame maker shops at the Yaffo end of Dereckh Yaffo. There's an art school opposite and lots of artists studios in the area.

We ended up on the beachfront where a group of fledgling wind surfers were being instructed on how to take off.

There's plenty going on elsewhere , especially in the Gaza area, and all of it bad. Here in our Tel Aviv bubble though we're wind-surfing.

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