Tel Aviv-based practice, A.Lerman Architects, led by architect Asaf Lerman, and specialising in public projects, especially regeneration work, has designed the Contemporary by Golconda art gallery run by well-known art expert Dr Ronald Fuhrer in the Israeli capital. Set in a former halva-cum-print factory at the southern end of Tel Aviv, this intervention within an existing industrial building explores the boundaries and potentials of re-use as a design brief. The building on 117 Herzl Street was a mediocre architectural product in the positive sense of the word. It had other qualities too, being practical, average, unremarkable, generic, and faded. But in fact, its actual neutrality allowed a major intervention that did not suffice with a mere facelift and the creation of a polished art space.
On the contrary, the intervention was set out to tackle the existing building with contemporary tools and concepts aimed at manifesting the conflict between the found object/building, and the new use injected into it.
The tension raised between these two extremes can be described as a new category of space. Rather than re-enforcing a mythic – out of the sands tabula rasa modernism – as the history of Tel Aviv has been branded with, the design team looked at the adulterated forms that emerge out of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa hybrid at the places where they overlap. Not black, or the ‘authenticism’ of romantic Orientals, nor the white of the conscripted modernism, but mongrel modernism, emerging not out of clear ideologies but out of the confusions and contradictions of urban life.
Thus, the gallery design is based on a ‘hot-cold’ interaction between extremes. Potential tensions are mapped, then highlighted: new versus old; sensual versus alienated; exposed versus hidden; high versus low; shining versus dim; clear versus opaque; open versus closed; clean versus dirty – that have become the defining characteristics of Tel Aviv.
Client: Contemporary art gallery
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Principal architect: Asaf Lerman
Photo credit: Amit Geron, Jochum Richard
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