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The architecture of Palestine during the British Mandate

“Social Construction,” a new exhibit at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem running through December 31, 2016, puts a spotlight on the “white architecture” that early 20 th century European modernists imported to pre-state Palestine  – and the social values this style reflects.

Curator Oren Sagiv gathered roughly 40 analytical and interpretive drawings together with more than 60 archival photographs of some of the iconic architectural projects built between 1930 and 1940 during the time of the British Mandate.


Of course, Tel Aviv is nicknamed the White City for its unrivalled abundance of these simple white, rounded buildings designed in what is known as the Bauhaus or International style. But they’re found in large numbers also in Jerusalem and Haifa.


“Social Construction” shows how the development of these urban centers “emerged from the influence of international modernism while forming a unique architectural language inspired by the ambitions to establish a new state and to create a new social order,” according to the museum.


“The influx of immigration to Palestine following the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the concurrent political upheavals in eastern Europe brought a generation of architects who embraced modernism as a new beginning.”

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Located in the museum’s new Palevsky Design Pavilion, “Social Construction” draws on the research of Israeli architects Ada Karmi-Melamede and Dan Price, co-authors of Architecture in Palestine During the British mandate, 1917-1948. An English translation of the book was published as a companion to the exhibition.


This Bauhaus building at Tzina Square (now Dizengoff Square) in Tel Aviv, built in 1937 by Genia Averbuch, is now The Cinema boutique hotel.

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Twisted staircase features in Casa Vota renovation by 51 Architecture

London studio 51 Architecture has combined digital fabrication with boatbuilding techniques to create a sculptural timber staircase at the centre of a family home.


51 Architecture was tasked with remodelling the two-level Casa Vota in London’s Hampstead for an Italian couple expecting their first child.

The aim was to make better use of space in the 120-square-metre home.


The team’s main intervention was to replace the original boxy staircase with a lighter, more space-efficient alternative.

They also reconfigured the upper-level bedroom floor and created a roof terrace to provide a place for both relaxation and play.


“The clients asked us to reconfigure the apartment with a design that would evoke feelings of the Italian landscapes of their childhood, the sensory experience of cool enclosure and bright, warm fields,” project architect Matt Smith told Dezeen.

“We wanted to design a new staircase that created more space with a tighter geometry, but also felt like an organic transition between the cool, sheltered living spaces downstairs and the brightness and warmth of the spaces upstairs.”


The new staircase features a curved white balustrade and angular wooden treads, and is positioned below a new skylight.

The first two treads are built up from several layers of ash. The rest are all made from solid ash, and are separated by gaps.


“Visible from above and below, the natural texture of the stair treads radiate away from the stringer,” said Smith. “The underside of the treads were shaped to make the timber appear folded and provide an altogether different form.

“Shaped from layers of solid ash, the resultant stepping form was inspired by rock strata.”


51 Architecture collaborated with structural engineer Price & Myers and contractor Triple Dot during the construction and fabrication process.

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The team used digital fabrication to design the curvature of the stringer balustrade – a technique previously demonstrated by a spiralling staircase in Norway and a U-shaped staircase in India.


A 3D model was created first, before a 2D version was sent to the CNC machine and cut from 25-millimetre-thick birch plywood.

Grooves were then routed into the wood cutout before it was shaped using steam bending – a technique traditionally used in boatbuilding. The wood is heated using steam so that the temperature and moisture make it pliable enough to bend into a specific shape.


“Closely spaced CNC-routed grooves achieve the single curvature geometry from a single sheet of ply; the grooves were filled with a hand-applied sawdust compound to smooth the surface and to hold the shape, and finished with a layer of fibreglass before being painted,” the architect explained.


The intention was to create a stair with no visible fixings, so the balustrade is suspended from above and fixed to the surrounding walls by the ash treads.

“The twisting banister is top hung from a hardwood hook, and then restrained back to the adjacent walls by the ash stair treads, which were shaped, dovetailed and dowelled by carpenters on site,” added Smith.


On the upper floor, glass dormers and additional skylights were added to bring in light from all four sides. Here, the reconfigured master bedroom opens out to the roof terrace.


The original timber lantern roofing was replaced with a large walk-on skylight, allowing for more light into the main living space below. The architects also added a glass banister, helping more light to enter.

An iroko wood bench is planted with lavender to feed bees, while boxes on the eaves provide nests for swifts.

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Appareil Architecture transforms old Montreal factory into contemporary restaurant

Canadian studio Appareil Architecture has converted an ageing Montreal industrial facility into a modern restaurant featuring a fire pit and original details, such as exposed concrete columns and red brick (+ slideshow).

Called Hoogan & Beaufort, the restaurant – which serves continental cuisine – is located in a former manufacturing facility in the city’s Rosemont borough. The factory was used to build rail cars from the early 1900s to 1992.


The owners, chef Marc-André Jetté and sommelier William Saulnier, wanted a space that embodied both modernity and tradition.

“The mandate was to create a modern 70-seat restaurant with an intimate and comfortable atmosphere, while paying homage to the building’s past,” said Appareil Architecture, a young Montreal studio that takes inspiration from Nordic design.


Encompassing 2,700 square feet (251 square metres), the restaurant features 28-foot-high (8.5-metre) ceilings and preserved industrial elements, such as exposed concrete columns and red brick walls.

“Raw materials such as steel, wood and concrete were selected to complement the spirit of the place,” said the architects. “The style is simple, but warm.”


The architect worked with artisans to create bespoke decor, including wood-backed bar stools and dining chairs with blue leather upholstery. The countertop is made of maple, while the hanging lamps are metal.

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“The lights were found in an industrial lot,” said Kim Pariseau, who founded Appareil Architecture. “We bought them, repainted them and changed the light inside.”


Throughout the space, the colour palette consists of black, grey and soft white.

“We wanted to recreate the festive atmosphere that is found around a bonfire,” said Pariseau.

On the perimeter of the restaurants, the studio created a more intimate experience by placing tables along large windows, away from the centre of activity.


On one side of the eatery, a shelving unit is filled with bottles of wine and small firewood logs.

“We aimed to have a stylish but unpretentious space where people would want to linger, feel at home and enjoy the chef’s universe,” explained Pariseau.


Other new eateries around the globe include a restaurant and cocktail bar by Space Copenhagen that pairs deep blue velvet seating with mirrored accessories, and a London restaurant by Tom Dixon that features a pink concrete bar, green leather booths and a cabinet of curiosities.

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On your marks: is Rio’s Olympic architecture a success or failure?

The collapsed sailing ramp has been hauled out of the water, a Russian diplomat has heroically killed a carjacker (or maybe not), and 450,000 condoms await action in the leaky athletes village. Beset by construction problems and delays and with preparations decreed the “worst ever” by the International Olympic Committee, how is the architecture and design of the XXXI Olympiad shaping up so far?

The park


Masterplanned by Aecom, the go-to architecture conglomerate for global mega-events, the Barra Olympic park is the primary campus for the games, and is home to nine major arenas – from the velodrome and the aquatics stadium, to handball, basketball, wrestling and taekwondo venues. Covering a 120 hectare (297 acre) triangle in the high-end district of Barra da Tijuca southwest of Rio, on the former site of a racetrack, the venues are arranged either side of a snaking, stripy pathway inspired by the wavy paving along Copacabana beach.

The buildings are as cheap and not-so-cheerful as you would expect for this shoestring games, mostly designed to be dismantled after the Olympics to make way for luxury residential development – just as a favela community of 600 families on the site was swept away to make space for the games. Those hoping for a refreshing dip in the neighbouring lagoon, meanwhile, can think again: it has been declared too polluted to swim in.

The handball arena


The good-news architecture story of the games, the handball arena has been designed to be dismantled and transformed into a series of schools once the events are over. Created by local studio Lopes, Santos & Ferreira Gomes, with UK firm AndArchitects, sections of the 12,000-seat building will be used to form the basic structural elements for four state schools, each accommodating about 500 pupils.

From the slatted wooden cladding to the concrete circulation cores and the steel frame, all will make their way into the new structures. A similar plan in London 2012 never quite happened. The inflatable pillows from the Coca-Cola Beatbox pavilion were intended to be recycled into a canopy for a local school, but the cost of dismantling the structure intact proved prohibitive, so the whole thing was scrapped.

The accommodation

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The flats have been designed “at a level that only kings have previously had”,according to developer Carlos Carvalho, the 92-year-old property tycoon behind the 31 tower blocks of the athletes’ village. He must have been referring to those hard-up kings who lived in rundown palaces with flooded floors, broken elevators, mouldy walls and holes in the ceiling, judging by the conditions that teams of athletes have been greeted with in the past few weeks.

The near billion-dollar project, known as Ilha Pura, has been built by Carvalho Hosken and Brazil’s biggest construction firm, Odebrecht, who planned to recoup their investment by selling the luxury flats for 1.5m reais (£361,000) each. The property market has since plunged by 20% and just 240 of the 3,604 apartments have been sold. Meanwhile, as the teams moved in, more than half the buildings had yet to pass the safety tests.

The mascots


Those moving into the crumbling, leaky accommodation blocks might at least be cheered by the presence of the beaming yellow cat-cum-monkey, whose constant grin is guaranteed to wipe away those mouldy apartment blues. Developed by Birdo, a São Paulo-based animation company, the official Rio mascot apparently “possesses the agility of a cat, the balancing skills of a monkey and the grace of a bird”.

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Named Vinicius in honour of Brazilian poet and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes, who penned The Girl from Ipanema, this hybrid Pokémon creature was “born out of the explosion of joy that followed the announcement that Rio would host the Olympic Games”. He is never far from Tom, his trusty shrub-headed friend, with whom he shares a treehouse in the Tijuca forest, from where they can see the whole city and marvel at the tidal wave of public money being pumped into private real-estate speculation.

The torch


“Inspired by the warmth of the Brazilian people,” the Rio torch features movable segments, allowing it to expand when you run your hands up and down its sculpted shaft. Oo-er. As it grows, each segment opens to reveal a coloured resin section beneath, in shades of blue and green designed to represent the sea, mountains and sky, while the roaring flame stands for the sun – a palette that’s conveniently the same as the Brazilian flag. The wavy contours, meanwhile, were derived from the sinuous strokes of the Rio 2016 brand identity, itself inspired by Brazil’s curvy assets: mountains, waves and bodies on the beach.

The outfits


The two-week fashion parade kicks into action once again, with Giorgio Armanibehind the look of the Italian team, Ralph Lauren dressing Team USA, and Sweden clothed in cheap and cheerful H&M, while Team GB are dressed by Stella McCartney – who has surpassed herself once again by crafting the tiniest trunks in the world for Tom Daley. Confirming that the 90s are well and truly back, her outfits favour bold graphic prints that employ a redrawn British coat of arms. Three lions hold flaming Olympic batons, while the national flowers of leek, rose, flax and thistle appear in the centre shield and a crown composed of medals sits up top, “symbolising continuity, teamwork and shared responsibility”.

The collection has been hailed by Vogue as sporting a “‘renaissance varsity’ edge that wouldn’t have looked amiss on a Gucci catwalk”. And you can dress up like your idols, too, because it’s all for sale: Jessica Ennis’s pants can be yours for £25.

The cauldron

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The work of American kinetic sculptor Anthony Howe, this year’s cauldron design is certainly on message with Rio’s anti-global warming theme, featuring the smallest flame of any recent Olympics – magnified several hundred-fold by a gigantic rotating reflector. Featuring lots of little mirrored spheres and discs that rotate behind the flame in a spiralling sunburst wheel, it could be a glittering headdress plucked straight from the Rio carnival.

“My vision was to replicate the sun,” says Howe, “using movement to mimic its pulsing energy and reflection of light.” Removed from the stadium following the opening ceremony and installed in the city centre, the 12 metre wide lampshade doesn’t appear to have quite the same magic now that it’s stationary.