The renown Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem talks to ek about 5 of his recent projects – luxury penthouse apartments with distinct characteristics, in the booming city of Tel Aviv.
Urban luxury housing seems to be reaching a literal high in Tel Aviv. What does rising so far above the ground entail and how would you explain its popularity?
Tel Aviv is an urbanic and vigorous city that attracts thousands of people from the periphery and many Jewish people with means from all over the world. Since it is a developing city and one of the most modern cities in the world, many want to live in it. This is how the need to crowded housing and building high rise building arose. The supply and demand are responsible for the rising expensive prices in relation to the world and so is the type of population who can afford living in high rises building – very rich population. This drove the entrepreneurs to build more high rise building with even more large and luxurious, greatly invested apartments.
The bamboo garden on the Beit Lessin mezzanine level, opposite bronze lighting elements depicting sunlight against the blue sky views, evokes the surrounding areas of a country villa as seen from the inside of such a space, but into one of a completely different category. Did you consciously try to design a floating countryside microcosm on top of the urban fabric in your recent high rise projects?
Great question. This is the exact goal. In Tel Aviv a phenomenon was created that many rich and relatively older people that lived in private mansions now move to the city – after their children left home. This is how the need to provide them with luxurious apartments was born, with the fragrance of their mansions, with the garden and pool that they left behind. And in reality , despite the fact that I design roof apartment, I try to plant in the design elements of a garden, including gardening and swimming pools. A garden in the sky creates great surprise, is very impressive.
A rather impressive feature in the We tower penthouse is the glass and steel extensions of the building envelope that create a bright, in-between space, that is neither interior nor exterior. What brought about such a design?
One of the advantages of a private house over an apartment is the intermediate areas. Glances from the inside to outside and vice versa which make it greatly difficult to recreate in roof apartments. The idea behind the inside-outside space is to provide a sensation that the apartment does not only exist in its contour but it also has outside areas which are fascinating, they enlighten and richen the whole experience of the user.
Your transparent perimeter pool on the Da Vinci penthouse reminded me of the structural glass skypool designed by Arup Associates and HAL for the Embassy Gardens development in London. What implications will such a boundary pushing feature have in the lives of the inhabitants in your opinion?
My office always stretches the boundaries of technology. I believe that that architects must use advanced technologies, lighter materials and this is why we always request the assistance of creative engineers and, on occasions, learn from other industries such as hi tech, or robotic industries, of advanced materials. This allows us to design such swimming pools at such heights and such open areas.
Another striking feature is the in-house insertion of a part of the external pool in the Midtown TLV penthouse. Obviously these are luxury residences and a pool is considered standard in luxury housing; however, water appears to be a key part of your recent designs, it plays an almost structural part. Is that a personal design evolution on your behalf?
A very accurate observation; Water for me is not only a source for swimming in original swimming pools but also a unique element that knows how to upgrade my use of natural light. Water reflects light very beautifully and in the case of the roof apartment in Midtown, that pool is transparent which allows the penetration of a unique bluish light into the apartment’s spaces. The water’s movement and provided serenity constitute a great and important part in the minimalistic plan and design I aspire to.
Your architecture is characterised by a theme, a play between absolute opaqueness and transparency. In these cases, is that also to help users occasionally withhold from overlooking the surf-like white city buildings (and the sea) like from the Arlozorov penthouse, which can nevertheless turn into a dizzying view?
This is a great example to a greater idea which guides me for years.
The idea of contrast and the suspension created between things. I like to play with illuminated surfaces and dark shadows. With wide open glances versus long and narrow glances, with vertical and horizontal axes and so as opaque and exposed. The suspension created in these crossings brings on many occasions, drama in an architecture which aspires to silence quietening. And this in itself creates an interesting suspension.