Tourist Tip #227 / Open House Tel Aviv

For one weekend a year, the doors of some of the most fantastically designed buildings in the White City are opened, and architecture-hungry gawkers can come on in.

Tel Aviv is known fondly as the White City thanks to its world-renowned Bauhaus architecture. But if you think that the shekel stops at the many Tel Aviv buildings boasting the sparse, geometric style, think again.

Israel's most cosmopolitan city is home to many other architectural gems, constructed in various eras using different design aesthetics. On most days, locals and tourists can only catch a glimpse of these sites' facades, but for one weekend a year some of these spaces roll out the welcome mat and let the general public in. This year, that weekend is May 2-4.

Inspired by similar events in London and New York, Open House Tel Aviv launched in the White City in 2008. Since then, once a year, design and architecture enthusiasts have been spotted around the city waiting in line to enter what may appear to be an abandoned building, wandering around the city armed with maps of the participating locations, or heard lamenting the fact that they don’t live in the luxe loft they just exited. Dozens of private spaces all over the city open their doors for the event, including urban villas, unique synagogues, designer lofts, architecturally notable public buildings, construction sites, plazas and gardens.

This year, visitors can check out Tel Aviv's traffic control center; Sarona, the 19th-century Templer colony that is undergoing a facelift; a 1930s Art Deco building in Jaffa; handbag and shoe designer Daniella Lehavi's studio; the Tabeetha Scottish School in Jaffa; and many other often inaccessible sites. Visits are led by architects, designers, developers, property owners, institutional administrators and other experts.

The event also includes walking and bike tours, special lectures, concerts and workshops. Space is limited for some events and registration may be required. See http://www.batim-il.org/ for more information.

Nir Kafri