Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vincente Gerbasi - Poem on 28 Rachel Imeinu

Seeing as this was regarded as one of the values of our building, the fact that one of the greatest Venezualan poets of the 20th century lived in and wrote about our building, and seeing as it may potentially influence our intervention in the building, the poem on Rachel Imeinu written by Gerbasi, is found below.

Studies of Building's Limits - Subject to Change...

Note, that these analyses were done prior to hearing the lecture given by and chatting to our tutor Roi Albag, which changed my line of thought regarding future intervention in the building significantly. Meaning, that these analyses are potentially or rather most definitely subject to change. Also in retrospect these are very defined, rigid and limited studies in that they are solely within the footprint of the building as well as being limited by the shape and size of the coloured blocks (defined by the given planned spaces of original building) which I allowed myself to play around with.

Different Directions...

At this point in the studio, or rather as of two weeks ago, we (Josh and myself) decided to go our separate ways regarding the intervention we each propose to do at 28 Rachel Imeinu.
Josh, in the residential direction and myself in the more public services direction.
This is simply a post to clarify the different directions future posts might take.

Traffic Circle

28 Rachel Imenu sits on a traffic circle that today is known as Recha Freier Plaza. The circle marks the meeting point of three roads: Kovshei Katamon, Bostanai, and Rachel Imenu. While Bostanai is a smaller road, the other two are main routes in the neighborhood. Rachel Imenu was part of the original road that went from the Greek Colony to the monastery, and Kovshei Katamon follows the route of a major water pipe in the Mandate Period.
Unlike many traffic circles, including the one immediately to the south, this plaza was a feature of the original plan for the neighborhood, appearing on maps in the 1930 as an ovular shape demarcated by low walls in front of the various plots. According to David Kroyanker, the only other two plazas that are as old are Orde Wingate Plaza (formerly Salome Plaza) at the intersection of Balfour, Marcus and Jabotinsky, and Allenby Plaza in Romema, at the intersection of Romema, Hatzvi, Torah Mitzion and Haor.
In a 1935 map, 28 Rachel Imenu and the building to the south, 35 Rachel Imenu, are the only ones that appear around the plaza. However, 35 Rachel Imenu does not sit as directly on the plaza. Perhaps for this reason the plaza was known as Abdin Plaza in the Mandate Period. (Kroyanker, Talbiye, Katamaon and the Greek Colony, 198) Soon after the building to the north is added, and by 1948 two other buildings bordering the Plaza were built. The final building, to the northwest, was only completed in the 1990s. Before it was named after Recha Freier it was briefly called Achlama Plaza.
In front of 28 Rachel Imenu and 35 Rachel Imenu there are a number of stools installed in the sidewalk. These come from when the Reut School was located in the building in 2001. The stools are in memory of Ester Deutsch, who died in 1997 and was designed by Ron Gilad.
More than any other of the six buildings, 28 Rachel Imenu is influenced by the plaza. It is a symmetrical building whose axis runs through the circle. The building's architecture also relates, as the entrance juts out toward the circle and a balcony oversees it. There is an exceptionally large sidewalk in front and a large stretch of circular wall around the garden.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Elevation Desecration

Green = Pipes
Blue = Banner / A.C. Units
Red = Electrical Wires
Grey shading = Tubze Stone

The elevations of 28 Rachel Imenu are generally well-kept. The building itself was originally two stories but a third story was added in 1947 with a different style of stone finish - Tubze instead of Taltish. In addition, along the back elevation there are some places where the 1st floor and even the ground floor stone has a Tubze finish.

Most of the original fenestration still exists. One window in the basement level has been sealed up, and two windows on the second floor (only one of which is obvious) has been sealed. Some of the balconies have been closed in, but this has mostly been done well. The exception is the large balcony in the rear of the second floor, which was closed with ugly, white plastic walls.

One storage space has been added to the rear, on the back porch. This is the only part of the building not clad in stone and it stands out like a sore thumb. It has a metal corrugated roof and is only one story high. Currently it is used as the kitchen.

However, due to the fact that extra showers and toilets were installed in the building, a large number of sewage and water pipes adorn the walls of the building. In addition, electrical wires have been draped along some walls, some for exterior lighting, and a few air conditioners have been installed externally. On the roof there are a number of solar hot water heaters, but these are largely unobtrusive. Wherever pipes and wires are strung there are holes punched in the stone to allow entry into the building.

Presumably the Polish Consulate installed a flagpole in the middle of the front elevation. For a number of years a sign identifying the current tenant has been placed front-and-center above the entrance. In the past it was a convention sign, but today it is a banner that takes up the full width of the front elevation and wraps around the side.

The building is surrounded by a low wall with a metal fence above. At some stage spikes were added to the top of the fence. Certain segments of the fence have been broken, but have all been repaired using similar parts. One section of the fence, towards the rear of the property on Rachel Imenu, is missing and was presumably taken to replace a more prominent part of the fence. There are three openings in the wall - one at the main entrance, one opposite the stair core on Bostanai, which allows access to the 1st and 2nd floors directly from the street, and a larger opening on Rachel Imenu, which at one point served as the driveway. This last opening is the only one that no longer has a gate attached to it, though evidence of the hinges in the wall are still present.