An architect in between Paris and Tel Aviv
I kept the way I’m working and thinking from the London method, how I was educated. Because the main difference between English thinking and the French one is that you experience the work by making and doing rather than thinking first.
David, you studied architecture in Brussels, then established your company in Paris, now you are moving to Tel Aviv. You also stayed in London. How do you feel like living and working in these cities and being on the go?
I studied architecture in Belgium and I completed my studies in London. I kept the way I’m working and thinking from the London method. It is how I was educated. Because the main difference between English thinking and the French one is that you experience the work by making and doing rather than thinking first. This is the same in Belgium and France. There is a lot of philosophy and people prefer to intellectualize the work and then they start drawing or working on the project. This is why I preferred studying in London to proceed more by making, working and drawing and then to post-rationalize. You think after you made something so this is what I kept from my London education. I chose to bring my way of working to Tel Aviv. I’m coming from a Jewish family so I was always going there for visiting friends or the country. It is a young country and a young city. I think there is a possibility to do new buildings and contemporary architecture can improve more than in old European cities.
It is an exciting city and the heritage is amazing.
Tel Aviv is called as “The White City” because it has early 20th century of Bauhaus architecture politicly. There are many young people, it is a very young city. This is also one of the reasons I would settle there rather than another city in the country. The country is not that big so you can travel easily.
You believe in the making but most of your projects are based on a conceptual frame.
In London at the Barlett where I post graduated, there is a master and even a Ph.D. called Research by Design. You can write and read but you have to design. This is the process of research. This is the way I am working for such a High Rise Building in Tel Aviv. Now, I am sort of writing a book on the project. Writing, reading and documenting the steps of the project…
Gran Mediterraneo, Tel Aviv
Speaking of Tel Aviv, Gran Mediterraneo project is an innovative high rise concept which promises a vertical living. Can you explain the process? This project will be interacting with its region?
Yes, it is a mixture of the mixed use high-rise concept. It was inspired first by the architecture from the 30s which is made of concrete, painted white and full of curves, with the balconies. This characteristics of the Art Deco movement is one aesthetic reference for the project. Then I wanted to renew the way of designing and building the high-rises in the city of Tel Aviv. I used concrete curves as a tribute to the existing legacy. in the way we redesign. In the project we have different programs, a first important program is a car park silo. The reason why I choose to put a vertical car park is because of the lack of car parking in the city. When it is vertical it maximizes the space. There is not so much space for cars in the city and this is why we stacked the car park.
Maybe the laws directed you to make this vertical solution on the horizontal level growth?
It is also sort of a landmark, being vertical. Everything is automated here. You have robots that park your car. We use the reference from Wolfsburg in Germany, the city of Volkswagen. They built silos for parking the Volkswagen cars. This is also a landmark of the brand in Germany to showing that you can show exhibit the cars and you can stack them vertically. That system is also working with robots. The car silo is also aimed for at new autonomous cars without drivers. I imagined this vehicle because of the situation of traffic and the lack of public transportation systems in the city of Tel Aviv, also. They just started to build a metro line. So far you have a lot of traffic and very few public transportation vehicles. Another aspect of the high-rise is you have are apartments, an hotel but and you also have shared farms so people can grow their own vegetables. This is also a part of the Israeli culture.
Yes exactly. The result of this mix usage mixed use high-rises is a sort of vertical kibbutz because you can find all the programmatic elements you would find in a typical horizontal kibbutz.
In kibbutzs people are encouraged to make their own food, vegetables or fruits. This is part of a cultural heritage. How do people react to this project?
I haven't really spoken to the people that I don't know except to the potential clients but they are not Israeli. They are interested in seeing publications in the magazines and the web My Israeli friends wanted to help me to introduce the project to local authorities. This is also why I am setting up my office in there to be closer to Tel Avivians.
You are participating to invited competitions. In most of these projects I can see you like to play with forms, try to create cultural landmarks.
There are two main aspects of my approach. First of all, I don't like to repeat myself. The second thing is I am interested in nature as an inspiration. If you take one project I did for a tennis center in Sweden, the client was a wood manufacturer. So I decided to express the wood at every scale in the project. You can see it on the website http://davidtajchman.com, it is called Tenniscalator. I stacked all the tennis courts to create sort of a landmark and I used the wood for the structure but also for external envelope. In the envelope, you see sort of big eyes for the project that is are also inspired by the wood nuts knots. The project was mainly influenced by the wood in every aspect. The wood nut knot as a material mistake but also for the structure, using laminated wood...
You also offered a project in Ümraniye, Istanbul with Sinan Logie. It was a project about bringing an alternative solution to fast urbanization in the peripheral areas of Istanbul.
It was an invited competition. We were five teams to compete and we ended up as a finalist. We decided to build with concrete to find a sort of specificity to Istanbul’s identity. I found this painting by Klimt using a lot of gold painting and we decided to incorporate pieces of its gold color inside the concrete just to make the concrete look more precious.
Parador, Directed by: Benjamin Seroussi / Art Director: David Tajchman
You started practicing architecture more than ten years ago. How do you compare the architecture scene in Paris or in the cities you have lived and worked from starting of your career to today? Lots of things have changed in terms of prototyping and manufacturing methods.
I would take Gran Mediterraneo project as an example. We had quite a lot publications, social networks became very viral This is how clients contacted me from Iran, US and everywhere. I would say what has changed in terms of getting clients or commissions is the publication of on the Internet and the rapid manufacturing like 3d printing. My practice has changed a lot. This is the difference from now and fifteen years ago. Most of my projects are designed in small teams we design in the group of two people or maximum three. We don’t spend too much time for the end models. We do some very early paper models. Then we test and improve the project by printing. With digital tools we don’t need to hire too many people. We usually team up with larger companies, executive architects when the project gets built.
Kaplinsky, Tajchman's collaboration with the Director Benjamin Seroussi
You are also working on artistic projects. Do you prefer combining your design approach with art?
With Benjamin Seroussi, the filmmaker; we met 3 years ago and we did 2 artistic collaborations so far. Now we are starting the third one which focuses more on geometry, values from my field that interest a lot Benjamin. The architectural knowledge I have is being used even by this filmmaker. He will use the structures I am building for a movie to tell a new story. This is a new way to tell a story. This is what we are launching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang campaign and We plan to shoot the movie in early August. This is very different from my everyday practice. I like to collaborate with different people who are not from architecture.