Curator and Architect Oren Sagiv gathered roughly 40 analytical and interpretive drawings together with more than 60 archival photographs of some of the iconic architectural projects built between 1930 and 1940 during the time of the British Mandate, and I was able to get a tour of the exhibit a few days before it opened to the general public.
We weren’t the only VIP’s getting an early look – while we were there, Architect Phyllis Lambert (2016 Wolf Prize Architecture recipient) was also getting an early look, accompanied by James Snyder, previous longtime director of the Israel Museum.
Located in the museum’s new Palevsky Design Pavilion, “Social Construction” draws on the extensive research of Israeli architects Ada Karmi-Melamede and Dan Price, co-authors of Architecture in Palestine During the British mandate, 1917-1948.
An English translation of the book was published as a companion to the exhibition, which explores not only the tectonic and functional aspects of this new architecture, but also the relationships among values, place, and form that influenced the formation of this new language in a new land.
Of all the things I came home with at the end of my trip to Israel, this book might be my favorite. 476 pages with amazing images, drawings, plans, sections and elevation drawings. This is a book that every architect interested in modern architecture should have in their library.
Taken from the Foreword of the book, Ada Karmi-Melamede describes “White Architecture” the following way:
It was an imported language, made up of pristine, geometrical forms, which established itself and then evolved into a local dialect. Mirroring the realities of local life and the ideological foundations of a new society, this language created an architecture that was fresh, optimistic, surprising and completely foreign to the local context. Stylized and restrained, White Architecture celebrated the paucity and simplicity of the local building materials and shone in the intense sunlight of the Middle East. This dialect spread quickly and became an integral part of the local urban and rural, devoid of the theological foundations or ideological agendas which characterized the adoption of modernism in Europe.
This architecture is a romantic, rich and multi-faceted language.”
Yes … I was extremely self-conscious about my wardrobe choice when meeting with Phyllis Lambert. Luckily, I had met her the night of Wolf Prize event, and at that time I was at least wearing a suit.
This was the Vibe Israel group photo, which included James Snyder, the longtime director of the Israel Museum (who is stepping aside and will assume a newly created position — International President for the museum’s worldwide activities). We also had to include Wolf Prize Architecture recipient Phyllis Lambert (front and center, 5th from the left) – a Canadian Architect, Philanthropist, and Educator, and just to left of Ms. Lambert is architect Oren Sagiv, the curator of this exhibit.
“Social Construction,” will be on display in the Palevsky Design Pavilion, the Israel Museum, from July 7, 2016, until February 11, 2017 and I highly recommend a visit is you are able.