While a large percentage of Tel Aviv's more prominent Bauhaus buildings are in the Rothschild Blvd. neighborhood, other remnants of this era in Tel Aviv’s architectural history can be found in many areas of the city. One interesting cluster is located in and around the area of Dizengoff Circle, and they lend themselves to an interesting Tel Aviv Bauhaus tour that even at a leisurely pace, should take no more than two hours. For those wanting to explore Bauhaus, there are plenty of hotels in and around the area to give you easy access.
the area of Dizengoff Circle
Start at Dizengoff Circle, walk north to Frishman St, go to 33 Frishman St. Descend a flight of stone stairs and walk through the gate (which will probably be closed, but not locked). You’ll find yourself in what looks like a small public garden surrounded by a building project. While most Bauhaus commissions were for private dwellings (and some for public institutions), this complex of apartments was constructed in Bauhaus style for the ruling Mapai political party - the forerunner of today’s Labor party in Israel - and the apartments were apportioned to the party faithful. Equality was a watchword in Socialist circles then, and in keeping with this tenet, all the apartments were built to look the same. The only different element is the glass doors at various places on the ground level. These served as entrances to public facilities such as kindergartens, laundry rooms or grocery shops.
Return to Frishman, continue to Dizengoff St, turn right, left at Esther St., right on Ruth St and left again, immediately, onto Yael St. and to Yael St., to look at buildings # 6 and 8 across the road. Notice, their straight lines and right angles, and then the asymmetrical layout -a balcony on one side of each floor, and a window on the other. This asymmetry was a manifesto of sorts, as though to announce: “We are doing something new.” Also, pay attention to the balconies. All of those built during this period were open-air spaces; only later did people enclose them.
On the other side of the street, #3, where you are standing, notice the building, which is more elaborate than many others It was designed by renowned Bauhaus architect Oskar Kaufmann, who also designed the original building of the Habima Theater, Israel’s national theater. Notice the rounded theater-like “podium” at the entrance – as well as the two trees casting their shadows on the building, planted with the intention of adding a bit of ornamentation to an otherwise undecorated edifice.
Cross Yael St. at Shlomo Hamelech St. and continue until you reach #18, which is on the opposite side of the street. Here a Bauhaus building once stood; the one that took its place many years later was also constructed along Bauhaus lines, although the differences are quite evident.
The flat roof on #20 Shlomo Hamelech is another typical Tel Aviv Bauhaus feature. The roof was common property of all the tenants, serving as both laundry roof and a venue for parties. Here too, notice the strip balcony on the second floor, an architectural element designed as a way of introducing more light.
At the corner of Shlomo Hamelech and Zamenhof streets, both #12 and #14 sport rounded corners. This is often the case with Bauhaus-style corner buildings, the intention being to redefine an urban landscape in softer architectonic tones. At #12, pay attention as well to the long, narrow balconies, the construction of which the introduction of reinforced concrete frames in the 1930s helped to facilitate.
The rounded building at #11 Shlomo Hamelech Street, (at the corner of Tel Hai St.) was built to resemble a ship, a symbol of modernism to the architects of the time, since they bridged the gaps between countries. Notice, too, the long, rounded “Mendelsohn” balconies - named after Bauhaus architect Erich Mendelsohn - and the rounded living spaces inside that they echo. At the time, buildings like these were considered to be less functional, and so they were strongly criticized.
Walk down Tel Hai St. to the end, turn right and there, at the corner of Bar Kochva St., look at the roof atop #58. The pergola there - totally non-functional - was yet another attempt to soften cubic Bauhaus forms.
Continue one block down Bar Kochva St., to Zamenhof St. once again and turn left to Dizengoff Circle. Decades ago, this point, which is now being rejuvenated, was the heart of the city and all the buildings surrounding it were constructed in Bauhaus style, including the movie theater that now houses the Cinema Hotel. Note the slits in its sunbreakers - an element that developed with time to allow for increased circulation of air through the balconies.
Continue on Frug St., turn left on Gordon St., the center of Tel Aviv’s art galleries. In less than 10 minutes you’ll be face to face with Tel Aviv's promenade and the Mediterranean Sea.