Telavivian Architects – Brad Pinchuck and Hanan Pomagrin / The Heder Architectureby Gili Merin | 21.10.14
“The intensity of the city requires a much more open-minded and dynamic master plan” says Brad Pinchuck of The Heder (literally meaning ‘the room’)- a well-established Studio in Tel Aviv. Founded in 2000, The Heder now employs ten architects and has won numerous local and international prizes, including the RIBA award for their collaboration with Pritzker Laureate Daniel Libeskind in the Wohl Center at Bar Ilan University, and were declared by both Calcalist and The Marker as one of the top young and promising firms in the country.
Read the full interview with two founding partners: Brad Pinchuck and Hanan Pomagrin, including photos of their beautiful studio in Tel Aviv by Sarale Gur Lavy, below.
GM: When and why did you start The Heder?
BP: Officially, we opened the office in October 1999 but Hanan and I worked a few years prior to that on a series of installations we called “projects”.We would work our day jobs and then rush off to our studio in Florentine for the night shift. We designed and built our first two private houses this way.
HP: At the time, me and Brad we were working at well-known offices but were looking for a different kind of framework of expression. We wanted to set up a place that would be more open than regular architectural studios, a place that could house different activities under one roof, an umbrella of artistic creation.The opportunity presented itself when we met Boubi Luxembourg who offered to team up with us and opened the studio on Gottlieb Street. We completely renovated a space on the ground floor with an adjoining garden. A concept house was created and included an architectural and interior design office, a contemporary art gallery and a graphic design studio. The Heder quickly became an intense meeting place for clients, architects, creators and consumers of all the arts. During the past few years our architecture projects have expanded greatly and we decided to close the art gallery, but the atmosphere of openness remains and we welcome different collaborations and do not hesitate to take on challenging ventures.
GM: Tell us about your office in Tel Aviv – what is the space like? what do you like about it most?
BP: We have a lower ground floor office in the very center of the city. minute from the bustle of Dizengoff street and Ben Gurion Boulevard and yet we enjoy a very quiet relaxed workspace. The tree-planted courtyard softens the harsh local light and this adds to the very positive atmosphere. The space itself is a version of an “open-space” and we all work on long shared tables. We have a separate meeting room and an additional less-formal conference table within the open space which doubles as a dining table at lunch.
HP: It’s the heart of old Tel Aviv: close to the municipality, which gives us easy access of different building permits at different stages. It is near well-known cafés and restaurants and for those without bicycles we even have our own parking, which is rare in the centre of Tel Aviv. The interior of the studio is a white box with a clean and minimal design. Monochromatic colours of grey are balanced with the warm colours of the wooden tables and furniture workspaces. The studio is surrounded by walls exhibiting contemporary art workץ The adjoining garden and views of the trees seen through steel windows, softens the space and gives a natural and calming setting for an urban office.
GM: In your opinion and of your experience, what is the biggest challenge about designing in Tel Aviv?
BP: The city has a very special human scale. Retaining this unique character while meeting the growing demands of the developers, the council and the population is a massive challenge.
HP: Tel Aviv is truly Israeli by character, unlike other cities like Jerusalem which have their roots in history. Tel Aviv, which has a late starting point, about 100 years ago, tells the story of Israeli architecture in the modern time. There are challenges of designing here, how do you add new built form while maintaining the special character of the existing? What story do you want to tell that will add a new layer to the architectural story unfolding in this city?
GM: What do you think the city is lacking in terms of architecture? In what subjects is it excessive?
BP: The city lacks an overall long-term master plan which includes a definitive and precise view of the city’s response to climate change, the importance of public transport (at the expense of private car-ownership), the preference (and need) for green space and planting within the privately owned plots (these are slowly disappearing because of the basement parking lots) and a more progressive view of public space and public buildings/services. The intensity of the city requires a much more open-minded dynamic master plan which would allow for quicker and more appropriate responses to the real needs of the residents. There is clearly an excess of top-end luxury housing at the expense of public space and a more balanced mix of housing supply. This could be dealt with by the city within its master plan. Over the last few years the issue has been raised but it is still far from resolution.
HP: The local design is flourishing and there are some very good architectural projects but the emphasis is still on the object itself and not so much on the space between the objects. The city is still lacking in good public spaces, the glue that holds the urban fabric together, the in-between spaces, the gaps, the voids, these are the secrets of good city planning, and especially quiet ones. I don’t think there is even one place in Tel Aviv where you can escape the noise of the city.
GM: Lastly: what is your favourite building in Tel Aviv?
BP: The local courthouse by Zeev and Yaakov Rechter. A beautifully detailed and proportioned building in off-shutter concrete and silicate bricks.
HP: It’s more the fabric of the city that I love then this particular building or that, the diversity, the five story proportion, the street life, the people, the constant changing views, the sense of being in a “garden city” as laid down by the first urban plan of Sir Patrick Geddes in the 1920s. I personally love this city and its rhythm, I feel symbolically as if it captured the essence of my character and gave it a built form, international and secular on one hand but also Israeli, Jewish with traces of tradition on the other.
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