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Tel Aviv could lose its status as a UNESCO World heritage Site if it goes through with redevelopment plans.
Property owners, the city’s engineer and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar of the Likud party, have expressed objections to the plans, according to Globes business newspaper. Sa’ar is president of UNESCO Israel and warned that the urban renewal plans are “liable to harm Israel’s commitments to UNESCO to preserve Tel Aviv’s ‘White City’ as a world heritage site.”
The term “White City” refers to more than 4,000 Bauhaus or International style buildings built in Tel Aviv from the 1930s by German Jewish architects who immigrated to Israel, at that time under the British Mandate of Palestine.
Tel Aviv has more Bauhaus style buildings than any other city in the world. The architectural style was prominent in pre-Nazi Germany and favors functionality at the cost of ornamentation, uses asymmetry and focuses on space rather than mass.
UNESCO declared the White City a World Heritage site in 2003, noting the “outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century.”
Tel Aviv city engineer Oded Gvuli said that the city’s plans do not preserve the site’s character but added that the plans are subject to UNESCO’s approval, which he thinks is unlikely.
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