Architecture

It’s An Open House

by Gili Merin | 20.10.15

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For two weekends every year, ‘Open House Jerusalem’ and ‘Open House Tel Aviv’ gives us a unique opportunity to gaze inside the hidden architectural treasures of Israel’s two major cities. In a special interview for Telavivian, Alon Bin Nun, the architect responsible for importing the Open House format from London to Tel Aviv, tells us about the inspiration for the exhibition, his practice in Tel Aviv and the connection between the two.

Bin Nun, the founder of ABN Architects, lives and works in Tel Aviv and specializes in residential buildings in the heart of the white city, while teaching as a senior faculty member at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
The full interview, including all the details about ‘Open House Jerusalem’ (taking place this upcoming weekend), photos from past events and special photos from Alon’s Tel Aviv-based studio by Sarale Gur Lavy – below.

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Tell us about the exhibition – what makes it so special?
‘Open House’ shares architecturally significant buildings, spaces, gardens and even construction sites with the public – free of charge and open to all. These fascinating places, which normally remain hidden, become a ground for exploration and discussion. Every year more venues join the exhibition as we draw architects, home owners, developers and institutional administrators to open their property and showcase places which are unique, beautiful, and hold a cultural or historical significance – which has an abundance of in a city like Jerusalem, where nearly every ruler throughout the ages has left a stamp on the city’s built landscape, from the ancient stones to contemporary skyscrapers.

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Where did you find your inspiration for the project? when did you first bring it to Israel?
We started the events in Israel following a visit I made to NYC in 2006. I happened to be there on the occasion of ‘Open House New York’ and was introduced to this worldwide event by some friends of mine who live in the big apple. As I was running from one site to the other it became clear to me that this is the absolute best way to exhibit architecture; it is the only format in which you do not see representations of architecture but rather the real thing, not to mention it is a lot of fun – a sentiment rarely associated with architecture and architectural exhibitions. Aviva, my partner, was looking at the time for a new career after leaving journalism, and we thought it would be a great idea to import this event to Tel Aviv, where we live.

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Alon Bin Nun

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The first event in Tel Aviv was in the spring of 2007 and turned out as an unexpected success: With 27,000 visits in three days, it didn’t go unnoticed by an executive at the Jerusalem municipality, Arch. Tzachi Katz, who asked us to expand the format to Jerusalem. Surely enough, six months after the first opening,   ‘Open House Jerusalem’ followed. Since then, we host the event twice a year, in the spring in Tel Aviv, and in autumn in Jerusalem.

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What do you feel is the effect on visitors?
I think the biggest contribution of the exhibition, apart from the obvious platform for local architects that use it as a professional conference, is the educational aspect to the general public by introducing challenges of architecture and urbanism. Most of the people today address these things only in terms of visual aesthetics and design, failing to relate to the “heavier” ideas concerning our profession. I think that a more educated audience is crucial for better architecture; the more your clients know, the more accepting and understanding they will be for new, radical ideas.

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Are there any special highlights you want to recommend on the upcoming ‘Open House Jerusalem’?
Under the title “New structures: Architecture and innovation”, we collected contemporary buildings which we believed were designed with spatial sensitivity and strong awareness for the complicated context in Jerusalem. An example is ‘The Van Leer’ institute, which was commissioned in 2008: it showcases cutting-edge construction methods and manages to blend in harmoniously with its surrounding “elderly” buildings. The tour is conducted by the project’s architect, Bracha Chayutin. (event here).
Other categories in the program include historical tours, archeological findings, ecological endeavors, hidden gems and more.

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Open House Jerusalem: Free Entry. October 22-23-24, 2015
http://batim.itraveljerusalem.com/defaulteng.aspx

Photos alternate between images of ABN Architects studio by Sarale Gur Lavy, and photos from previous “Open House” events by Ron Henzel.

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