Zarfati Residence

Ashdod, Israel

Program: single-family residence
Client: Zarfati Family
Area: 240 sqm
Status: Completed 1997

Zarfati Residence – Nimrod on the beach – Ashdod – Itzuv 30, December 1996, pg 84-85

The house presented here is an attempt to search for an identity for Israeli architecture, for the growing architecture of a society that is undergoing a cultural and ethnic development, a society that exists in the landscape that slowly permeates its being.

The house is set on a bed of golden sand, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea between busy port platforms to the north and an archaeological site to the south and close to poor and boring housing projects, which make up the architectural landscape of cities and krayot in Israel.

The people of Israel who with great effort founded the state of Israel are still deliberating the states identity. It’s cultural identity as well as it’s relationship with its neighbors. Each time we redefine the nature of architecture and the built environment in which the state exists.

An architectural work depends on the existence of a continuous and fruitful dialogue with the natural environment and with local cultural values. In the absence of a continuous and familiar construction tradition it is difficult to adopt foreign architectural styles and to assimilate imported planning concepts. Even if there is a desire to implement advanced building technologies and anchor contemporary building types in the economic and political reality in Israel, this task becomes irrelevant.

In the cultural climate in Israel, often, a momentary planning whim is accepted as a school and as a landmark that after a short period of time becomes a fleeting and insignificant fashion. The house presented here represents to a large extent the dilemmas, frustrations and desires to create something unique, local, contemporary, a work that will stand the test of time, place and cultural upheavals. This is a building that tries to connect to its surroundings, to the open sea and at the same time to preserve its privacy. It is a building that sanctifies the functionality and the routine of daily celebration.

This building offers a different approach to the design of the street and public space facades. It is a building that has shed the tiled roof and stands bare in front of the blazing sun. This is a white-coated building, with the desire to present the room with simplicity, the splendor that truly does not require a granite or aluminum cover. The house presents a single planning experience within a new neighborhood, within a developing city, within a state that is debating its path and identity.

Does this house offer a suitable alternative? Is this house free of the vagaries of place and time?

It is difficult to answer these questions decisively, yet we believe that it gives expression to the dilemmas and struggles that underlie its growth. We hope that this house joins a long list of buildings that have taken upon themselves to participate in the ongoing discussion about the essence of our existence here and the nature of our cultural identity.