Modernising Tel Aviv Heritage

Pitsou Architects Create a Playful Modern Design Within a Historical Façade

‘We were in the middle of the project when I discovered that Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion used to live there,’ Pitsou Kedem of Pitsou Kedem Architects told us of their recent historical apartment redesign. Along with his team, Pitsou transformed the ground floor apartment of this building in the heart of Tel Aviv’s founding ‘White City’, adding new depths with the construction of a basement floor.

‘I was really pleased to work on a historical building with a historical soul,’ Pitsou told us of the structure that was originally designed by Yosef Berlin in 1925. ‘In London you would have the blue plaque on it, and you couldn’t change it, but in Israel it’s not like that.’

We asked Pitsou more about the project:

The Plus: It’s quite a modern design, but how did you incorporate the history into it?
Pitsou Kedem:
We are not allowed to touch the façade in Israel. We used only raw materials. The concrete is exposed, the steel is steel, it’s a stainless steel net, (in the staircase banister), we didn’t paint anything and we didn’t cover anything. In order to have a relationship with the historical building, I would use only materials in their basic form. So in conceptual terms, I’m not trying to cover it. I’m not covering the history, but I’m not imitating history.

TP: How would you describe the style of this design?
It’s like a historical shell: it’s like I took a spoon and took all the things out from the inside and I made an open loft inside. It’s a combination of two periods; one is the 30s, a time in architecture of small spaces and every function having its own room. The second is a modern era, where everything is open: the kitchen is open to the living room, the staircase opens to the basement. It’s combining the conservative way of living from the 30s, to the open style of today.

TP: Most of the colours are quite dark or neutral. What is the story behind the red details?
We used Boffi taps. They have one tap with a beautiful handle that has a really industrial look. I work with them often, so I asked them to send me only the handle of the taps, in order to use them in all the doors of the project.

The stainless steel mesh (in the staircase banister), for me, gave some colour and life to the flat.

The German company that produces that net, usually only do it in stainless steel, and I asked them to colour it in red.
These small details give a touch of sense of humour and a smile. The clients are a young couple, and it just gives a playful side to it.

Area: 220 SqM.
Design team: Irene Goldberg, Tamar Berger, Pitsou KedemIn charge architect: Tamar Berger
Design and built: 2012 – 2014
Photography: Amit Goren
Styling for photography: Eti Buskila