The Anti-Postmodern Architecture School

From the project "Until," by Chaya Baluka, recent B. Arch graduate of the Orthodox department at Bezalel
From the project "Until," by Chaya Baluka, recent B. Arch graduate of the Orthodox department at Bezalel

With time, the options for university education that is consistent with a higher halachic standard are widening in Jerusalem. The impact that this trend will have on the city’s economic makeup can not be understated. In turn, the effect of the rising participation of observant Jews in a number of fields is changing the dialogue that guides the country’s development.

This summer, the Orthodox department at Bezalel Academy for the Arts graduated its second Bachelor of Architecture class. The rigor and analytic approach that results from years of Torah study is apparent in the students’ work. Clear too, is the emphasis on balanced problem-solving and focus on the interaction between work, family and community. The projects are  a practical discourse on architectural functions in everyday life, motherhood, and inspiration. They focus on the agency of the individual and seek form that is conducive to both introspection as well as communal interaction.

This is essentially a reaction to the prevailing creed at Bezalel, which emphasizes the moral superiority of dispensation and deconstruction. A grand effort is in place to provide equal resources to both of the academy’s architecture departments. Most of the courses are the same, same professors, same requirements, same material.  Yet the architects emerging after five years of study are strikingly different, not only in appearance, but also in approach. 

It may take a couple of years for the new graduates to develop a presence on the professional stage. But for now, their graduate exhibit reveals a lot of potential. A quiet revolution is taking place.

About the Author
Liba grew up in New York, thinking of Jerusalem as a far-off place to visit in prayer. Today, she practices architecture in what she now knows is a very real, contemporary city, with all the potential in the world. Liba encourages discussion about architecture in Jerusalem @Building.Jerusalem on Instagram.
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