Architecturot: Exhibition by Kimmel Eshkolot Architects

In the summer of 2006, Kimmel Eshkolot celebrated 20 years of architecture practice in a solo exhibition in The Museum for Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, with their view on the many towers being built in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV HEIGHTS project was especially designed for this exhibition.

Observing the urban scene taking form in front of our eyes, where high-rises mushroom all over the city, casting shadows everywhere, we initiate an architectural project – imaginary but not removed from reality.

Against a backdrop of the tower rising between Neve Zedek and Florentin, we want to study the interaction between the tower and its surroundings. What is the impact of the tower on the old-time neighborhoods around it? Neve Zedek, the American Colony, and the Noga-Florentin area? Doesn’t the tower make them “insignificant” like ornaments in its park? What about height restrictions enforced in buildings that are on the monument list? From high above, enforcing them seems ridiculous.

We would like to sketch futuristic models for the city of Tel Aviv and to examine where it will all lead. What will happen when we accelerate the process toward its ultimate goal? When an entire neighborhood will be squeezed into a high-rise or when the city will be abandoned in favor of a park with high-rises at the sea front? What is the connection between high-rises and city life? Between towers and the public space? Is “towerization” a kind of vertical suburbia? An escape from the city and from daily life?

As threatening shadows of future towers dwarf the city, we propose to stop and ask: Why, where, and how many high-rises do we want to erect? How do we encourage coexistence between Gullivers and Lilliputians? Above all, how do we preserve a city in which it is good to live?

 

Curator: Sigal Barnir

 

Kimmel Eshkolot: “After 20 years of activity in Israeli architecture, we were given an opportunity to summarize our architectural efforts. In international architecture, an exhibition featuring a single office is a common event, but on the local scene this is rare, limited to “founding fathers” who have reached eminence. We, however, who still find it difficult to say “after 20 years” belong to the third generation of Israeli architects. We have not realized the dream, built the State nor drained the swamps. Yet, we see ourselves as partners to creation of a balanced architecture in a hyperactive environment that is forever changing.

This exhibition is divided into two unequal sections. In its central part, five public projects are displayed, each situated within a meaningful context. The Western Wall, the desert, the Mediterranean coast, the Babi-Yar forest and Ben Gurion university, each in its own way, challenge the architect who is called upon to design a structure that is meaningful for our times. In this section we want to show models of our projects and, in addition, also touch upon various aspects of architectural activity. A process that combines poetic thinking and esthetics with technical challenges about materials and volumes, and innumerable bureaucratic struggles.

The second part of the exhibition covers mainly housing projects in Tel Aviv. These have to cope with the depressing reality of the loud and disintegrating urban street. These projects converge with personal dreams of tenants but also with the fascinating urban reality prevalent in sweaty, peeling Tel Aviv. These projects are displayed in one plan, as a street, and a non-critical intervention in the urban mosaic. It is an attempt to clarify whether our cumulative efforts manage to create a presence in the public space.

The shadow of a tower separates the two sections of the exhibition. The rapidly rising tower in the neighborhood where we live and work, casts its shadow over the street scene that has been evolving for many years. It confuses the language and scatters the urban mosaic, relegating terms like “street”, “square” and “historical center” to “Mini-Israel” like parks and to photo-archives. The idea of high-rise apartment blocks, first conceived by architectural modernism, aimed to replace the complex city mosaic by a living space within a pseudo-natural scenery. Le Corbusier knew full well that before building the high-rise city he had designed Paris, as we know it, had to be destroyed. Are we now at the beginning of an era of high-rises built within the urban mosaic, thus sentencing the city to fading away?

It is our aim in this exhibition to bring these issues to the attention of the public in order to admonish and to caution. Yet, the tower as a symbol in the exhibition raises questions regarding the practice of architecture, by us and by others. In an environment where developers become ever more dominant and dictate development even in the public domain, how will the environment look, the public space, and architecture? In another decade, when we look in the mirror, what will we see?”