Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Beer Sheva Brutalism: Yad LaBanim

Here is Beit Yad Labanim, another of Beer Sheva's many examples of Brutalist architecture.

(We saw in the post about BGU's library  that the term Brutalism was coined in 1953 from the French béton brut, "raw concrete," a phrase used by Le Corbusier to describe the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post-World War II buildings.)

Originally designed to be Beer Sheva's main synagogue, the money ran out before its completion,  and the strange building stood deserted for years.
In the late 1970s a group of bereaved parents came together to try to have the building's designation changed.
By 1983 they succeeded in completing it as a memorial hall to their soldier sons and daughters who had fallen in Israel's wars.  

See more about the concept of Yad Labanim houses throughout Israel here.
Or see my photos of Jerusalem's Yad Labanim, which also has unusual architecture. 

I have not ventured in yet, but I read that inside are art exhibitions, cultural activities from time to time, and a 300-seat theater. 

Enlarge this photo 2x and see some interesting details!

Pigeons on the roof are kept out by metal grating stretched over the openings.
And that bare patch--is it just the plaster falling off the wall  or  could it be a deliberate "window" into the brutalist reinforced concrete? 
Haaretz has an entertaining article about Beer Sheva's love-hate affair with Brutalism.
(It is behind a paywall but the newspaper offers ten free articles per month after a simple registration.)

It says this, for instance:
Brutalism and its varied concrete features were seen as an allegory for the young, Israeli-born Jew − rough, direct, aggressive, just like cement itself. 
The architects of Brutalism were themselves native-born, young contemporaries of the state. Their character and vision overlapped with the allegory to a remarkable extent. 
The great irony is that their buildings were constructed mostly for newly arrived immigrants whom the state was sending to the country’s far geographical periphery to live in its Israeli-conceived concrete works. The architects themselves, of course, didn’t follow.
(Linking to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)


  1. The building does have a stark, aggressive feel to it, and from that summation, aggression seems to be prevelant in that style.

  2. William, I don't have the original Haaretz Hebrew article but I can sense bad "translationese" language in the English version. One certain Hebrew word can mean both assertive and aggressive in Englsih, and I am sure the translator chose the wrong one.
    The young Sabra architects back then wanted to show their assertiveness and NOT aggression, IMHO.

  3. That word Beer grabs my eye... always. Sorry! hehehe

  4. Birdman, sorry but here beer means well. Beer Sheva means either the well of the oath or seven wells.
    The Municipality now prefers the spelling Be'er Sheva. But the me that apostrophe is just plain wrong. In proper transliteration that apostrophe is to show a gutteral ayin letter, but the city's name is spelled with alef and not ayin. And everyone pronounces it Beersheva; no one makes two syllables out of the Beer.

  5. We are surrounded by ugly 'brutalist' architecture falling to pieces: nice to see that you have you share!

  6. That makes sense, actually... I can see assertiveness in it.

  7. "the country's far geographical periphery"? :) The entire country has to be about the third smallest nation in the entire universe!

    But I know what you mean by peripheral. I loved living _right_ in the centre of Tel aviv.

  8. Hels, back in the late 40s, early 50s, Beer Sheva was just a backwater town. The Negev was still not blooming. Many new immigrants were sent south to live in the middle of nowhere. No one had cars then, so it really was the periphery.
    Today, too, most people prefer to live in the center of Israel. The government has campaigns to urge Jews to move to the Galilee or the Negev.

  9. Thank you for sharing :)

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  10. I'll look forward to hearing what you think about the inside when you get to see it.

  11. Oh, I like it! It's really interesting, and not as aggressive/assertive as most of the other brutalist architecture :)
    Thanks for sharing!


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