Letter from Tel Aviv: the architecture reaching new heights in Israel’s cultural capital

Letter from Tel Aviv: the architecture reaching new heights in Israel’s cultural capital

Known as Israel’s cultural capital, Tel Aviv has an architectural identity that is a tale of two cities. The sun-drenched secular metropolis is loved internationally for its bohemian Bauhaus treasures, with some 4,000 historic buildings scattered across the broad, verdant boulevards of its White City district.

Then there’s its less recognised postmodern legacy: perhaps best summarised by the 34,500 sq m spacescape of the Azrieli Centre – its epic trifecta of towers completed by Eli Attia & Yaski Sivan Architects just shy of the millennium, reflecting all the futuristic optimism of the late 90s through its design.

This split personality is soothed by Jaffa, the historical port just south of the city that has now become the go-to destination for Tel Avivian nightlife entertainment. Countless clubs and 24-hour art venues like the new Magasin III are setting a new standard for the city’s late night culture junkies.

Richard Meier & Partners' Rothschild tower opened in 2017. Photography: Roland Halbe

Meanwhile, Israel’s startup scene continues to flourish in the ‘Silicon Wadi’ tech cluster surrounding Tel Aviv. Venture capital-friendly tax breaks introduced during the 90s through Israel’s Yozma business incubator programme combine with the warm weather and high living standards to encourage a more or less steady stream of tech outposts in Tel Aviv.

Giants like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon get cosy with specialist groups like WeWork, drone safety startup ParaZero and VR darling Magic Leap, all of which have bought into multiple floors of upcoming tower projects including Ron Arad’s ToHA development, Pitsou Kedem’s C6 Tower and the 72-floor Sarona Tower which nears completion.

Tel Aviv’s endless blue skies may yet have found their match in the city’s vertical expansion.