About Us
Contact Us
Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
III 1970 - 1980
  I conceived its form as two outstretched arms, arresting the dynamic force of the space rushing up the valley.   But to appreciate this sensation, one must be in Jerusalem and stand in the little garden at the foot of the site, as I did myself when I first took in the magnificent and dramatic view of the desert landscape. 

    By the time I had completed Canada House in East Talpiot, I considered that my work had achieved my primary intention of creating a building for a particular people in a particular place for a particular purpose. I was aware though, that although these should take precedence over a personalized artistic expression, it should not exclude a poetic resonance, which I had striven to attain.  One carries of course, a great many cultural packages on ones back, like Karel Capeck's insects, but I have chosen to travel lightly, and certainly not to burden myself with any personal architectural idiosyncrasies.  I have tried to adopt an attitude of reticence, as opposed to a prevailing architectural extravagance, which was beginning to appear in Israel and throughout the world at that time.   Rapidly changing fashions in architecture began to proliferate during the early seventies, because of the disillusionment of the public with what they perceived to be a lack of humanity in 'Modern Architecture'. What the public rejected was in fact, a sterile version of the authentic architecture of the Modern Movement. It had been hijacked by the commercial interests of real estate and the exigencies of autocratic housing bureaucracies in their desperate attempt to solve the increasing housing shortage that existed after the end of the Second World War. 

    I have endeavoured to stay on a path which I believed had been opened up by three authentic leaders of the Modern Movement,; Wagner, Asplund and Dudok, and my local architectural heroes: Kauffmann, Krakover, Mendelsohn and Heinz Rau. 

  I have included Heinz Rau in the list of architects who have influenced me, though I have not yet written about this very serious and fine architect.  He seemed to have fluttered in and out of my life over a period of some twenty years.  I first met him in 1950, when he worked in the Jerusalem section of the Planning Department of the Israeli Government on the first National Plan for the country.  I was deeply impressed by his Master Plan for Jerusalem.  I was then a student and was surprised that he talked to me almost like a mature colleague.  I met him again when I worked with his close friend Artur Glikson in the Housing Department.  I traveled through Israel with both of them, together with Konrad Waxman who was visiting us at that time.  Never have I been in such powerfully intellectual company.  When I finally opened my office in Bloch Street, Heinz Rau would visit me.  I think he felt it necessary to give me some support and advice at that critical point in my career.  I subsequently would visit him in his tiny office in Jerusalem, where he sat alone with two large photographs, hanging high up on the bare stone wall of his studio. One was of Schinkel's 'Alt Museum' in Berlin, and the other the Basilica (Aya Sofia) in Istanbul.   I subsequently visited both buildings and realized in what way these two magnificent architectural antipodes had determined the boundaries of Heinz Rau's architectural realm.  Sitting alone over his drawing board with a 2H pencil in his hand, drawing a 1:1 scale working drawing detail, he would talk to me only about the craft of architectute, of 'how' it is done, never 'what' should be done.

  | Previous Page |   | Next Page | Page 153