Workshop 1: Historic preservation in a dynamic metropolis: The city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Workshop Coordinator: Dr. Nir Mualam

Hosted by: The Planning Department of Tel Aviv-Jaffa

The city of Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and financial capital, has won recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site for having the world’s largest concentration of buildings (4,000) built in the modern, or Bauhaus, style in the 1930s. This occurred due to Tel Aviv’s unique history as a new city founded alongside ancient Jaffa and planned by Sir Patrick Geddes, the Scottish biologist and town planner, in the 1920s. In the 1930s, when the city was experiencing a building boom, scores of Jewish architects were forced to flee from Nazi Germany. They brought with them the philosophy of the Bauhaus School (which the Nazis had closed down) and, in Tel Aviv, they found the ideal tabula rasa for their design dreams.

The challenge of imposing historic preservation on large districts in the core of a highly dynamic city has required a lot of audacity and imagination on the part of the city’s planning and legal professionals. These are especially tough in Israel because Israeli law offers extensive compensation rights for “regulatory takings” – a financial burden that no city could carry. Tel Aviv thus presents a unique case study in which a home-grown version of transfer of development rights, special funding mechanisms and incentive-based outline plans have played a key role in enabling the maintenance, conservation and adaptive re-use of existing historic properties.

The ancient city of Jaffa, part of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality, presents a very different set of conflicts between historic preservation and development. Because Jaffa is a mixed Arab-Jewish city, the gentrification processes resulting from historic preservation have run into pre-existing inter-ethnic and geopolitical conflicts. The workshop will compare differences in preservation-related issues between the ancient Jaffa and more modern Tel Aviv.

The excursion and workshop will be hosted by professionals from Tel Aviv’s Planning Department and its Historic Preservation Team, as well as by NGO representatives. In a two-way exchange, participants will learn about the dilemmas of historic preservation as well as the types of instruments developed. The City’s professionals will be eager to learn from the knowledge and experiences of PLPR participants and to hear their critique of Tel Aviv’s practices.

We will be joined and guided by several experts including:

Arch. Jeremie Hoffmann, head of the conservation unit of Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s city. Arch. Hoffman is an expert architect in charge of preservation, maintenance, and management of the City’s cultural patrimony. He is also responsible for implementation of statutory plans pertaining to heritage.

Arch. Orit Ben Assa, and Arch. Hillel Helman, team members in Jaffa’s planning unit- in charge of spatial and local planning in Jaffa and its vicinity. The Unit’s main capacity is to review, initiate and supervise the approval of outline plans and to oversee permit applications.

Tentative schedule
8:15am Departure from Haifa hotels
9:15am Tel Aviv pick-up (if there is demand)
10:00 Tel Aviv-Yafo’s Planning Department.
10:20 Presentation: Arch. Jeremie Hoffman: Preservation in Tel Aviv: The ‘White City’, UNESCO, and current challenges. Followed by Q & A and discussion.
10:50 Presentation by Jaffa’s Planning Team: Urban regeneration, planning, and preservation in Jaffa. Followed by Q & A and discussion.
11:30 A mini-excursion inside the beehive: The Planning Department at work.
12:45 Coffee break and Lunch around Rothchild Avenue.
13:30 White City Excursion
16:00 Jaffa Excursion
7:00pm Tel Aviv drop-off
8:15pm Return to Haifa hotels