SHFELA – From their small office in old Jaffa, husband and wife Dan and Hila Israelevitz specialize in villas. They do other projects too – a Christian Orthodox School in Ramle is a recent example – but their heart is with designing houses. ‘We appreciate the attention and personal contact that comes with doing private homes,’ says Hila. Their work space, cluttered with typical architect’s attributes such as samples from building manufacturers and various electrical devices, stands in stark contrast to the clean, spacious homes that they design. They’ve been in business for over twenty years.
Although each project is different, many houses designed by Israelevitz share some remarkable features, such as patios and pergolas that offer cross ventilation and shade – no luxury in Israel’s hot climate. Another regular feature is a prolonged entrance sequence. Their villa in the Shfela area, halfway Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is a good example: from the street, the house is an enigma, as it’s hidden from view by a layer of columns and beams that embrace palm trees, olive trees and other beautiful plants.
Only after walking through a carefully orchestrated series of outdoor spaces do the inhabitants reach the front door. ‘We’re like film directors,’ says Hila. ‘We design scenarios. When the inhabitants come home after a long day of work, processing through the entrance sequence will make them forget their daily chores.’
Inside, the house is an oasis of calm. As is custom in many Jewish homes, a huge dining table allows the inhabitants to host large family dinners on religious holidays. The large terrace facing the garden – also covered by pergolas – offers the same possibility: there’s a shaded area to the side that’s devoted completely to entertaining, with an outdoor kitchen and dining room. A massive concrete beam delineates the roof, giving the structure an abstract feel. Photos of the house under construction show long steel and concrete rafters, against a stark blue sky. Says Dan: ‘Buildings are often even more beautiful under construction than when they’re finished.’
Plan – Level 0