The Kibbutz En Gedi

Friday, 08.01.2016

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The Kibbutz Gymnasium

I was very excited to go to Israel in October 2015 not because of Jerusalem being the centre of three world religions but because of Tel Aviv and the Bauhaus.

Before taking on the city, I went to En Bokek to enjoy the waters of the Dead Sea. Near En Bokek is En Gedi, a Kibbutz. This Kibbutz took me by surprise. The architecture is heavily indebted to the Bauhaus and Le Corbusier.

The Kibbutz at En Gedi was established in 1956 and today has about 500 members and residents. It began as a farming community that, as so many other Kibbutzim, exemplified the socialist-zionist movement. This movement was popular when Israel established itself as a nation state.

Due to the rise of Hitler in 1933 many jewish architects of german extraction emigrated to Israel. Some of these architects had attended the Bauhaus School and others were under the influence of Le Corbusier and generally ‘The International Style’. The social cultural ideology of the ‘Bauhaus’ that had no past and only looked forwards was very suited to a new country that was to become Israel.

Kibbutz Administrative Building

The administrative buildings at the En Gedi Kibbutz show strong Corbusian influence with the use of ‘Pilotis’ which elevates the building above the ground. This creates an additional space and more harmony with the building’s surroundings. The ‘Pilotis’ are also part of a grid of reinforced concrete colimns that bears the structural load. Without the restraints of the structural load, the architect was able to configure the interior and exterior (the facade) as he wished. The Corbusian use of a horizontal band of windows is also evident.

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Kibbutz Administrative building

For the residences of the members of the Kibbutz, the Bauhaus and its architectural concepts shown in the ‘Neues Bauen’ is evident. The introduction of reinforced concrete suited the rational design of these houses. Prominence was again given to ‘open spaces’ as exemplified by the use of the flat roof terrace and the external staircase. These open spaces are very conducive to the climate in the Middle East, however, the typical use of large amounts of glass that so typifies the ‘Bauhaus’ and in general the ‘International style’ was avoided (except for the gymnasium). In place smaller windows were opted for to keep the interiors cool and comfortable.

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Kibbutz Residence

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Kibbutz Residence