The White City of Tel Aviv: The Conservation of Modern Planning and Architecture and the Current Debate on Urbanism

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In July 2003 the "White City of Tel-Aviv" was designated by UNESCO a world heritage site. The designation is based on the following five characteristics of the area (Municipality of Tel-Aviv – Jaffa, undated):  The White City contains the largest concentration in the world of Early International Style buildings;  the preservation zone is noted for the size, coherence and homogeneous nature of its urban pattern;  the preservation zone is located in the core of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area – a center of urban activity, and is exposed to the eyes of thousands of residents and daily visitors, in contrast to International Style areas in other countries, which are usually situated in the city's periphery;  the White City is a showcase of many stylistic variations reflecting all the trends in Early European Modernism in the beginning of the 20 th century,  the area uniquely demonstrates a synergetic confluence of a high quality urban plan designed by Sir Patrick Geddes and good Modern architecture, both still preserving many of their authentic features. The declaration is the culmination of more than 20 years of effort by the planning department of the City of Tel-Aviv and the conservation movement in Israel to transform an area, and buildings, that in the 1970's were still considered run-down relics to be erased and renewed, into a cultural asset to be conserved and protected and given new life. At the core of this transformation lies the crisis of central values of Israeli society, and its national identity. Values that from the mid 1970's begin their transformation from what one might call a revolutionary modern mode, to a post-modern, complex, and more conservative mode. This has been pointed out by several critiques of the conservation movement, the particulars of the area to be designated, and its conservation plan. Moreover, the whole effort must also be seen, as was the very planning and building of Tel-Aviv, as part of the changes in global planning and architectural culture, and the rise of the conservation movement in Europe and the
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2008


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