Telavivian Architects: Erez Ella / HQ Architectsby Gili Merin | 14.12.14
“We are designing in a rapidly changing environment, with an economy that swells up and down and wars that start and end without prior notice” says architect Erez Ella when asked about the challenges facing contemporary architects in Tel Aviv. After spending several years as a leading contributor and associate at two of the world’s most prominent architectural firms, OMA and REX, Erez returned to Tel Aviv in 2008 and founded HQ architects. With projects ranging from residential to cultural, both in Israel and abroad, HQ now employs 16 full-time architects. In addition to this vast involvement in the practice, Erez co-curated the israeli Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture titled “Aircraft carrier – American ideas and israeli Architectures after 1973,” and currently leads the ‘Architecture:construction: Environment’ Research unit at the department of architecture at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
Read the Full interview with Erez, inlcuding photos of his Tel Aviv-bases studio by Sarale Gur-Lavy, Below.
GM: When and why did you start HQ Architects?
EE: I started HQ Architects at the beginning of 2008, right after I returned to Israel from almost 10 years of a professional journey across Europe: I was working at OMA for almost 5 years, starting as a student and eventually becoming as associate and one of the two principals at RE X architecture firm in New York. After working with and for the most amazing professionals and on the most exciting projects a young architect can wish for, I came to a conclusion that despite all, our influence as a discipline is rather limited on society and wanted to try and establish a new firm that will take the inherent limitations and try to make a difference. Unplanned, the big economic crisis as well the first large civil demonstrations in Israel happened shortly after establishing the company, and by reshuffling terminology and new national priorities, we have a great opportunity to make a change.
GM: Tell us about your office in Tel Aviv – what is the space like? what do you like about it most?
EE: The studio is in an old industrial building that been used as a carpenter’s workshop, so it still has the feel of “in the making”. We all sit in an open office, with conference tables between the workstations. Myself and the other partners sit among the rest of the people without any difference. If one needs to have private conversation we have a “quiet room” for that. One of the most important rooms in the studio is the model shop – the place where the magic happens.
GM: what is the biggest challenge about designing in Tel Aviv?
EE: I wish we had only one…. But if I had to point to the one thing it will be the uncertainty. We are designing in rapidly changing environment, with an economy that swells up and down, wars that start and end without prior notice, and regulations system that can be interpreted in different ways by different people.
GM: What do you think the city is lacking in terms of architecture?
EE: The most acute issue in urban planning in Tel Aviv is the lack of proper public transportation. It is absurd that families living in the city center own 2 cars.
GM: Lastly, What is your favourite building in Tel Aviv?
EE: The IBM building built in 1979 by Avraham Yaski. The building is representing a rare moment in Israeli Architecture; Where building technology, cultural ambition and economy met at a time and were able to create a building that was right to its physical, environmental and political context.
If you are a contemporary Telavivian architect and wish to be interviewed and photographed for the blog, contact firstname.lastname@example.org