One of the housing blocks in Kiron (Iris section), note varied apartment types on the right-hand building and villas on the roof on the left one. © Kiryat Ono Municipality, via PikiWiki Creative Commons.
Middle-Class by Design

Mass Housing Estates and the Consolidation of the Israeli Urban Middle-Class


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Architecture history, Housing, Middle-Class, Mass Housing, Israel


Middle-class housing in the context of post-independence growth in Israel, where urban growth was guided by the massive construction of new neighborhoods and buildings, produced various types of shared dwellings which became the prevailing types of urban housing. While mass housing is discussed in the context of Israel as a key device of a modernization project on the national scale, with deep consequences for marginalized immigrants and the lower classes – it has rarely been studied as housing typology for the middle classes. Nonetheless, urban growth and national consolidation starting the 1960s led to an emerging urban middle class, whose housing was the product of diverse actors, including urban and national policy, private contractors, neighborhood associations, financial systems, architects, and planners. Yet, as the social category ‘middle class’ is muddled, how can we distinguish mass housing for the middle classes, or middle class housing?

This paper examines the architectural features of three middle-class mass housing estates built in Israel in the 1960s. Asking what constitutes the middle class, we point to the capacity of an architectural analysis to identify the designed elements that construct a middle-class identity within the context of shared urban dwellings. The three cases briefly examined include the Be’eri estate in Tel Aviv, Kiron estate in Kiryat Ono, and Shchuna Bet in Beer Sheba. The three estates, developed in the 1960s by commercial and semi-commercial companies explicitly for the emerging urban middle class, employ New Brutalist architectural and urban design principles in mitigating community and individuals, public and private, identity and property.

How to Cite

Allweil, Y., & Ben-Asher Gitler, I. (2023). Middle-Class by Design: Mass Housing Estates and the Consolidation of the Israeli Urban Middle-Class. Docomomo Journal, (68), 18–25.




Author Biographies

Yael Allweil, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Is Associate Professor at Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel where she heads HousingLab research group. Her research was published in the monograph Homeland: Zionism as Housing Regime 1860-2011 (Routledge, 2017) and journal articles in Urban Studies, ACME, City, Urban Planning and others. Her research was funded by the Fulbright Foundation, Graham Foundation, Israel Science Foundation, and Israel Institute for Advanced Studies. Co-Chair of DoCoMoMo-Israel. Elected member of The Israel Young Academy of Science.

Inabl Ben-Asher Gitler, Sapir College

Is senior lecturer at Sapir Academic College. At Ben Gurion University of the Negev, she is a teaching fellow. Her research was published in the monograph Architectural Culture in British Mandate Jerusalem, 1917-1948 (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) and in numerous journals, including Israel Studies, The Journal of Architecture and Design Issues. She co-edited Israel as A Modern Architectural Experimental Lab, 1948-1978 (Intellect Books, 2020) with Anat Geva. Her research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation.


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