2015       Hertzl-Matalon  /  Tel Aviv

Client: Rolo Tomasi Ltd.
Size: 3000sqm
Program: 60 units and commercial
Computer Images: Benyo

The Matalon house is located at the corner of Herzl and Matalon street. It was planned and built in 1925 by Moshe Matalon, who lived on the top floor with his family until the day he died. Matalon, whom the street was named after, was one of the first builders of Tel Aviv, a son to the first Jewish family in Jaffa. He was engaged in public activism that sought to bring Jaffa’s Jews and Arabs closer and was a close friend of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv, and helped him buy lands for the city.

The colorful, vibrant commercial-center neighborhood that Matalon founded has been going through massive urban renewal in recent years, and our project takes a meaningful part in this process. We asked ourselves what would be the function of new building in the historic center of Tel Aviv; could old and new co-exist? How do we preserve the original eclectic facades and react to them without negatively affecting the authenticity of the historical fabric? How do we convince the developers to invest in heritage values?

On the face of it, it seemed obvious that a large new building would undoubtfully harm the fabric. Its dominant features have no resemblance to the formal logic of the neighboring buildings. In order to cope with the scale issue, we developed a narrative that tells the story of the city layers: the existing layer is our inheritance, our cultural legacy, and the new architecture is made of layers added to the status quo in order to repair and complete the urban texture. Each layer is an abstract continuation of evolution. Put together, the layers form an ensemble, a certain combination of old and new, and despite the analogy to the historic formal language - the new takes prominence over the old.

The unconventional treatment of the facades, the layers and curved corners, make the building feel weightless and elegant – an unusual appearance in the surrounding fabric. This urban infill may stand out with its height and brightness; From a close look it may have nothing to do with its surroundings. But this impression fades when you step back and take a look from the street perspective – a street that houses buildings from various eras, in various heights, scales, materials and approaches.

By abstract interpretation, composition of spaces, balconies and windows, articulation, the arrangement of the facades and the volume manipulation – we have planned a new building that blends in and doesn’t fight its neighbors. Through contrast and analogy, a dialogue with the existing status is established.

The new design employs the principles of the existing reality and the intentions behind the existing design. The new interference may differ in materials and technology, but the principles stem from the old. In this new project, our interpretation of the ideas behind the facades of these historical buildings aims to actualize the past and highlight the beauty of the surroundings.