The White City' Wins UNESCO Recognition

TA Bauhaus buildings get heritage site status

Esther Zandberg
Esther Zandberg
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Esther Zandberg
Esther Zandberg

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) yesterday awarded the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa the status of a World Heritage Site for its historical urban buildings in the Bauhaus style.

The buildings, which were built in the 1930s and gave rise to Tel Aviv's nickname of the "White City," have put the city on a list of just eight modern metropolises to receive the award.

The 21 member nations of the World Heritage Committee decided unanimously to award the status to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv Municipal Engineer Danny Kaiser, who was at the annual meeting, said that participants applauded when the decision was announced. Kaiser said that "global recognition of the architectural importance [of the buildings], coupled with the program to conserve buildings currently being discussed [by the city] are likely to boost tourism and encourage investments in Tel Aviv."

Tel Aviv's older areas were designed for the most part in the 1920s by Scottish city planner Sir Patrick Geddes. In 1925, Geddes drew up a master plan for the city - which at the time had a population of some 25,000 - and showed his concept of a large garden city of about 100,000 residents.

The scheme, which received final official approval in 1929, was the first and only master plan to be approved for the coastal city.

Tel Aviv was represented at the Paris meeting by Kaiser, Deputy Mayor Doron Sapir and architect Mike Turner, who was also involved in presenting the proposal to declare Tel Aviv a World Heritage Site.

A delegation from the Palestinian Authority wanted UNESCO to declare the Old City of Jerusalem a World Heritage Site. Kaiser said the committee had postponed a decision on this proposal to a later date.

The UNESCO award is an expression of international recognition of Tel Aviv's unique display of Bauhaus architecture.