Architecture

Telavivian Architects – Yuval Levy & Guy Hirschorn / ALMA

by Gili Merin | 07.10.14

This week the blog will introduce a young architect practice – A.L.M.A by Guy Hirschorn and Yuval Levy, who dared to found their studio while still at school at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Originally established in Jerusalem, ALMA recently relocated to a new space in Tel Aviv and focuses on producing architectural visualisations for various clients, while gradually making their first steps in design and planning in the big city.

Read the full interview with Guy and Yuval, including photos of their new studio by Sarale Gur Lavy, in the post below.

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GM: ALMA – when and when did you start?

GH + YL: During our undergraduate studies at the Architecture Department of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, we founded ALMA. Throughout  that period we found a common language in the way we view the design, graphic and architectural world. ALMA was established in a dense area of Jerusalem, with all the complications of planning in the Holy City. Recently we decided to move to the “big city”, the cultural and commercial centre of Israel. We are located in the busy city centre on one of it’s main arteries – Rothschild Boulevard. Rothschild Boulevard symbolises for us the direct connection between the various centres in the city.  We see “the street” as an important element in the infrastructure of the material world.  “Where people reside – great things happen.” The scientific definition of life is motion, This is exactly what is happening on Rothschild Boulevard.

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GM: You recently relocated your office to Tel Aviv. Tell us about your new space. What do you like about it?

GH + YL: Our office is located in a building that was planned in the 40s and as a result, there are large areas with vast space and height, the ground floor is not at street level, but rather half a floor above it.Over the years the building was covered with mosaic stones, which spoiled the unique design and isolated it from its architectural habitat. The office is a large open space with different zones, such as a creative area, a reading area, and thinking space.  As we spend a great deal of time in our office, it is important for us to have a comfortable, productive and inspiring environment.

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GM: What do you see as the biggest challenge about designing in Tel Aviv?

GH + YL:  As the cultural and commercial centre of Israel, Tel Aviv symbolises great diversity.  The city blurs the limitations and enables a vast amount of opportunities and competition.  The biggest challenge of Tel Aviv is the biggest advantage of working in a city with so much diversity and so many possibilities. We believe that the creativity, the uniqueness and the cultural heritage allow us to establish a visual and architectural language in order to have an interesting and creative dialogue with relevance to our place.  In our opinion, we see that the greatest challenge of this amazing city is its biggest advantage.

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GM: What do you think the city is lacking in terms of architecture? in what subjects is it excessive?

GH + YL:  The city of Tel Aviv has many diverse ingredients in its favour, but is lacking in some aspects of metropolitan planning. This can be seen in two main aspects – first in the macro level – The City and the second in the micro level – The Street. In the municipal aspect we believe that Tel Aviv needs to “connect” the various neighbourhoods and to create an urban mixture that will enable the main user of the city – the pedestrian – the ability, convenience and possibilities of getting to all of the areas without effort.  This can be achieved by creating a transportation system (public transport/bicycle paths etc.) which would give maximum accessibility to all areas of the city. Regarding the “street section” aspect, we believe that the bustling, bubbling main arteries of the city are the heart of the urban existence.  Therefore we need to know how to create a street façade that will establish a clear definition and border for the street.  By creating those limits we will define the street by its primary aspect – the public space.

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GM: Lastly, what is your favourite building in Tel Aviv?

GH + YL:  In Tel Aviv there are many styles and many structures capable of stimulating meaningful dialogue. Dizengoff  Square  is one of those. The original square was planned as part of a master plan and was part of an international style and became a central focus and popular area of the city. After a number of years of neglect, a decision was made to change the design of the square, and at the end of the 1970s the square was redesigned and raised above the street level in order to connect all the streets entering the square without interfering with the vehicular traffic.  The situation created tension between the horizontal, continuous, white Bauhaus buildings and the grey, dark, and disconnected square.  This contrast creates a good starting point for creating new architectural ideas which are capable of stimulating sustainable urban renewal and revival.

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If you are a contemporary Telavivian architect and wish to be interviewed and photographed for the blog, contact gili.merin@telavivian.com

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