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Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Architect: Más Studio
From the Architect: “The Jaffa House is a 19th century Ottoman building in an old and pleasant section of Jaffa, overlooking Tel Aviv’s skyline and the Mediterranean Sea. This project seeks to give a clear expression to that seam where the cultural character of the house meets a contemporary architectural style—that place where the old meets the new, and where tradition meets technology. The challenge lay in maintaining the building’s existing traditional architectural character, while creating a place that adapts itself to the life of the young family of six living in it.
“The house was originally built in customary Ottoman fashion—as a collection of spaces arranged around a large central room which forms the heart of the structure. A decision was made to strip away all the layers of materials that were added over the years of periodic renovation and reveal the building’s original structural fabric. Using new materials and technologies, we created a contrast that both retained and emphasized the traditional elements of the building’s construction. The large central room has been turned into a library in which antique tools and contemporary objects from the owner’s collection are displayed, reinforcing the conversation between the building’s original cultural characteristics and modern architectural ideas. Thresholds in doorways have been replaced with the same Carrara marble found in the pillars supporting the arches. An entire wall made from Kurkar, a type of sandstone found along the coastal areas of Israel and Lebanon, was found hidden behind a layer of wooden paneling and now exposed forms a central structural feature.
“The house, with its mix of cultural architectural elements and heavy, traditional furniture, impresses with its beauty. Yet it can feel cold and formal, which isn’t suitable for a young family looking for a place to relax and escape at the end of the day. Therefore, in the less formal living room of the two, we created a wide bench covered in Moroccan plaster, which serves as a place for reading, playing and relaxing.
“The idea driving this project was not to compete with the existing cultural and architectural elements in the house, but to join them, to emphasize them, and to be open to the results of some surprising choices.”