Edina Meyer-Maril (Tel Aviv University) [BIO]
Haifa, a Mediterranean port town in Israel, is a classical case study how the Europeans - German Templers, Jewish Immigrants and British mandatory officials - tried and succeeded in changing the local identity of this typical Arabic town into a multicultural urbanity, without eliminating each of its components. It also shows how architecture and urban planning was one of the most visible and efficient tools in expressing cultural identity and "superiority". Within almost 150 years this city increasingly grew and developed its urbanity. Since the 1860's the German Templers created a typical "German Colony" along side the Arab nucleus.
Inspired by Theodor Herzl's utopian novel 'Altneuland', the Jewish immigrants also tried to transform the city into a commercial, cultural and educational center, symbolized by the famous 'Technion' (1910-24) designed by Alexander Baerwald, which related stylistically to the Arab vernacular architecture of the region. Later, when the new covered market building of 'Talpioth' (1937-40) was erected in a Jewish neighbourhood as a hygienic alternative to the Arab open market in downtown, it was done in a predominant 'International Style', which declared its modernism and dynamic progress.
The public buildings initiated by the British Mandatory Government like the Town hall and the Law Courts, designed by British architects, combine modernism with local elements and conform conceptually to British colonial architecture worldwide. The new port which was built by the British authorities (1927-34) was an ambitious colonial project, destinated to link the Iraqi oil fields near Kirkuk with the Mediterranean ports of Haifa (Palestine) and Tripoli (Lebanon).
Haifa has maintained its distinctive urban diversity, but is also unified by many functionalist and post-modernist buildings built from the 1950s until the present day and are scattered within the city and its outskirts.