Building a new middle east: Israeli architects in Iran in the 1970s

Neta Feniger, Rachel Kallus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Iranian-Israeli diplomatic relations, from the 1950s until the fall of the Shah in 1979, were part of the Israeli government's 'periphery doctrine': an effort to establish relationships with non-Arab states in the Middle East and to extend its commercial enterprises. For Israeli construction companies it opened up a new market. For architects it offered a prospect for transnational professional exchange: an opportunity to rectify modernism and make it more considerate of environmental conditions and socio-cultural needs. To explore this transnational architecture, the paper examines a housing project designed for the Iranian navy by an Israeli architect in the 1970s for three locations on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The analysis is threefold. It first discusses the project as part of Israeli-Iranian diplomatic relations, raising questions about the export of architectural knowledge as part of a bi-lateral exchange. It further examines it within the recent discourse on modernism outside the West, in relation to the Israeli architectural context of the time. Lastly, the project is discussed as a reflexive professional quest to better modernism. The analysis reveals that this project was not merely a knowledge exchange, but an attempt to contextualise Israeli architectural praxis in a different locale, thereby establishing a site-specific yet universal modernist place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-401
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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