A tower that seems suspended in the air

Construction will soon begin on a snazzy, Rehov Hayarkon luxury condominium tower designed by Ron Arad.

Arad 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Arad 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s not every day that ultra-chic Tel Aviv takes its cue from plebian Holon. But that’s what is going to happen later this fall, when construction begins on a snazzy, Rehov Hayarkon luxury condominium tower designed by Ron Arad, the London-based starchitect and sculptor who created Holon’s year-old Design Museum.
Arad’s Tel Aviv six-storey, sea-view instant landmark features curved balconies that pay homage to the White City – Tel Aviv’s nonpareil assembly of more than 4,000 Bauhaus-inspired 1930s and 1940s buildings which earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003. Arad was inspired by those historic buildings, many of which incorporated pilotis or columns, leaving a ground-floor garden – and allowing the sea breezes to blow through.
“I grew up in a Tel Aviv that was built on stilts.
Small footprint of the entrance floor; Overhanging block above, sheltering an outdoor space extending the garden,” explained Arad in an e-mail from his London office.
“Here, we maintained that precious space without the favors of the stilts. The responsibility of cantilevering the mass of the building is discreetly handed to the floors and walls. With the help of a rich network of tensioning cables, these walls and floors perform above and beyond (literally) their traditional roles as the structural grid of the building.” Commissioned in 2006 by Paris-based developer Sami Marziano, the awkward, 1,100-sq.
m. L-shaped lot at the corner of Rehov Am Israel Chai presented Arad with the challenge of how to maximize both views to the sea and living space.
His innovative solution was to bury post-tensioning cables within the concrete throughout the structure to support the building’s staggered masses.
Facing Rehov Hayarkon, the 11-apartment tower is dramatically cantilevered seven meters over the garden, seemingly suspended in the air.
“Additionally, a deep transfer structure embedded within the second-floor slab and a deep lateral beam at roof level form the lower and upper limits of a compressed structural system, transferring loads via the monolithic concrete shells which form the back of each apartment,” Arad noted.
ARAD, 59, was educated at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He was honored by an exhibit last fall at New York’s prestigious Museum of Modern Art.
Entitled Ron Arad: No Discipline, the museum show celebrated the designer’s interdisciplinary and “no-disciplinary” spirit.
MoMA hailed Arad as having “produced an outstanding array of innovative objects over the past 25 years, from almost unlimited series of objects to carbon fiber armchairs and polyurethane bottle racks. He has also designed memorable spaces, some plastic and tactile, others ethereal and digital.
“Arad relies on the computer and its rapid manufacturing capabilities as much as he relies on the soldering apparatus in his metal workshop. His beautiful furniture can even receive and display SMS and Bluetooth messages from mobile phones and Palm Pilots.
“Idiosyncratic and surprising, and also very beautiful, Arad’s designs communicate the joy of invention, pleasure and humor, and pride in the display of their technical and constructive skills.”
The exhibition subsequently toured in Paris’s Musée National d’Art Moderne / Centre Georges Pompidou.
Closer to home, the Holon municipality selected Arad to create an iconic design for the city’s new Design Museum. The award-winning project, together with institutions like the Holon Institute of Technology, the Mediatheque, the National Cartoon Museum, the Egged Bus Museum and the Israel Children’s Museum, were intended to have the “Bilbao effect” of putting the once-drab city built on the sand dunes on tourists’ itineraries.
The term refers to architect superstar Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which transformed the rusted-out Spanish post-industrial backwater into a major tourist destination.
Not all of Arad’s cutting edge projects have been so successful, however. His abortive design for a major sculpture at the foot of downtown Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall came to naught in 2007 following a kerfuffle about renaming Zion Square “Rapoport Plaza” in honor of the Waco, Texas tycoon who pledged $2 million for the sculpture and urban improvements there.