The White City of Tel Aviv

Bauhaus architecture, Tel Aviv.

The world’s largest collection of Bauhaus architecture makes up the White City of Tel Aviv.  Planning students will remember that Sir Patrick Geddes, the eccentric godfather of 20th century regional planning, was retained by a forerunner to the Jewish Agency to plan the new city’s physical layout during its first period of rapid growth, in the mid-1920s.  Between that time and Israeli independence in 1948, Bauhaus became the architectural style that filled out much of Geddes’s plan.  Recently, I came across an Israeli website, Artlog, that catalogs some of the city’s most significant structures with photographs, architectural drawings, and descriptions.  There really is a striking aesthetic to the clean geometry and smooth curves of these buildings, set against the bright skies and sun-starched land of the Middle East.  Artlog seems to be a work in progress, but its work on Tel Aviv is already quite thorough, and worth a look.

Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. The ancient seaport of Jaffa is on the horizon.

I found versions of both these photos on multiple websites, without apparent attributions or copyrights.  But if they’re really yours, just let me know, and I’ll either provide appropriate credit, or take them down.

Meanwhile, here’s a schematic map, reproduced in Dwelling on the Dunes: Tel Aviv, by the architect Nitza Metzger-Szmuk (2004), from the cover of Geddes’s 1925 report; and a Google satellite pinpoint map, for comparison:

New Star Chart

Not exactly land use law (in any earthly sense), but I really like this.

Part of “Compass to the Northern Sky,” Municipal Prints Co.

And stargazing isn’t completely unrelated to the art of town planning: Vitruvius advocated reference to celestial bodies when orienting the layout of new Roman towns.

Posted in Art

Quick Read on Local Building Regs

I recently came across a short book, Administration of Building Regulations: Methods and Procedures for Enforcement, that presents a concise overview of US building codes.  If you’re at all interested in the scope of American municipal building regulations, it’s worth the two hours or so that it takes to read.  Published in 1973, it is a clear, well-written presentation, with a minimal number of unnecessary tangents.  Building codes are direct heirs to the building bye-laws that Unwin discussed in Town Planning in Practice.  They controlled, among other things, the geometry of development in the years before that aspect of land use regulation was subsumed by comprehensive zoning.  Today’s building codes deal almost exclusively with technical specifications, including electrical, plumbing, and structural requirements.  As its title suggests, this book also covers the broad legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms of municipal building regulations.

It may not be the easiest title to find.  They have a copy of the 1973 edition at the Rutgers law library in Newark.