Location: Kibbutz Maagan
Client: Kibbutz Maagan Michael
completion date :
Stage 1: 2001
Stage 2: 2005
Read the Article published in:
Structural Changes in Kibbutz Life
Require a New Concept of Housing
Quantitative Uniformity to Qualitative Equality
The social, economic and
physical structure of the collective known as a
‘kibbutz’ was founded in Israel in the early 20th
Its uppermost value since its very beginning was equality,
translated in most realms of community life not as equality of
opportunities, in its qualitative sense, but rather in its quantitative
sense, as formal uniformity.
In recent years, however, this old conception of
equality has been redefined in many respects.
The social structure reverted back to the nuclear family, with children
raised at home, and no longer in a communal house where they were
regarded as the possession of the community as a whole. Wages,
previously based on the notion that every member contributed according
to his or her own ability, but was supported according to his or her
needs, have now become differential, based on one’s
Housing in the kibbutz is perhaps the last fortress of
the old and simplistic conception of equality; a conception that now
more than ever can change.
According to this conception, houses are regarded as static models
of predetermined uniform shape, arbitrarily
positioned on the building site. All houses with no regard to any
environmental factors on any specific plot resulted in having all
identical plan and elevations. This approach created a qualitative
inequality between the houses and inequality of opportunities among the
Moreover, the outcome of this dogmatic approach was that houses built
in the desert environment of the Negev or the hilly Galilean
environment were exactly the same.
The new model implemented by me in the design of the
new houses in Kibbutz Maagan Michael was fundamentally
different. The planning process I adopted was based on patterns that
were common to all the houses, patterns that grew out both of the
social structure of the kibbutz and the geographic location facing the
sea. When these common patterns were used in different
site conditions, a variety of houses
emerged, sharing one architectural language.
Kibbutz Ma’agan is situated on a hill, with
the new neighborhood on the western side that faces the sea.
Each planning decision, from the positioning of the house on the site,
through the determination of the direction of its entrance in relation
to the path, and unto the location of each window, was taken on
the site of each plot.
First the position of each house in relation to the others was
determined, so as to ensure that each one has an open view to the water
and can enjoy the breeze coming from the sea. To determine the level of
each house so that one could see the sea while sitting on the terrace,
I used a crane that lifted me up to where I could see the sea. This
height was measured and the level of the house was determined
At the center of the neighborhood, a path was planned
connecting the promenade that runs along the water and the path that
runs from the communal dining hall at the heart of the kibbutz to the
What dictated the course of the path was my wish to see the water from
every spot along the path.
The houses were arranged in small clusters, sharing a
communal open space. Unlike the traditional pattern in the kibbutz,
where all open spaces, called ‘the lawn’, are
communal and the buildings are dispersed arbitrarily in between, here
the secondary paths running between the houses defined in a non- formal
way, with no fences, the “private” zone of each
family. This sense of “private territory”
unexpectedly created a new reality in which each family started to grow
its own garden.
At this stage the site plan was completed. The position
of each house in the neighborhood in relation to the paths and its
position in relation to the sea produced different types of
The walls are all whitewashed light blue, complemented by regionally
quarried sandstone characterizing the construction details.
The implementation of a conceptually new model in a
very rigid social framework became possible now, as a result of an
overall change in the reality of the kibbutz communities, a change that
was inevitable in the twenty-first century.