Any design-lover living in Tel Aviv will proudly brag that their beloved Mediterranean city is a (if not the) Bauhaus architecture capital. Never mind the fact that the progressive Bauhaus art academy – currently celebrating its centenary and which famously preached minimalistic, functional design – originated in Germany.
To Tel Avivians, Bauhaus is synonymous with Tel Aviv. The new White City Center, a joint project of the Tel Aviv Municipality and the German government opening its doors this month, aims to celebrate that connection.
Tel Aviv was dubbed the “White City” in 2003, thanks to its 4000 Bauhaus-inspired buildings that classified it a Unesco World Heritage Site. Its unusual concentration of modernist architecture, mostly built in the 1930s, is characterized by clean lines, curved ribbon-like balconies, and sparkling white geometry. But despite these solid credentials, the city’s design pedigree has been more off-the-record than official, reserved for architecture aficionados in-the-know.
Until now, the main tourist resource for any Bauhaus fans was a design store offering walking tours and books about local architecture. The White City Center will revamp those offerings with permanent and temporary exhibitions (several in collaboration with Bauhaus centers in Germany), a large-scale map of the city on the building's rooftop, and walking tours.
It will also offer guided tours of the White City Center building, built in 1936 and designed by celebrated Israeli architect Dov Karmi. The center is itself a meticulously restored example of Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus-inspired architecture and one of 190 buildings in the city required to adhere to the strictest criteria of architectural preservation. Efforts were made to retain as many original details as possible during the building’s recent multi-year conservation process, from paint colours to windows.
The White City Center will officially open on 19 September with a full-scale Bauhaus street party; after that, it will be open during regular visiting hours.