Building a New Land: Women Architects and Women’s Organizations in Mandatory Palestine

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An evening in honor of Sigal Davidi’s Book

Building a New Land: Women Architects and Women’s Organizations in Mandatory Palestine

Participants:

Prof. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern

Dr. Natalie Naimark-Goldberg

Dr. Oryan Shachar

Moderator: Professor Hanna Nave

Response: Dr. Sigal Davidi

Women architects were key partners in the construction of the developing Jewish settlement and in the advancement of modern architecture in the Land of Israel/Palestine. By the end of the 1930s seventeen women architects operated in the country, most of them graduates of technical universities in Germany and Vienna who immigrated to Israel after completing their studies and a short internship.  Lotte Cohn, Elsa Mandelstamm Gidoni and Genia Averbuch are the subjects of a book entitled Building a New Land: Women Architects, Women’s Organizations and Institutions for Women in Mandatory Palestine, which reveals for the first time the range of their creative and public activities and achievements that were hitherto relegated to the margins of consciousness. The book describes the singular collaboration they forged with various Zionist women’s organizations, among them Wizo, the Council of Women Workers, the Women’s League for Israel and the Mizrachi Women’s Organization of America, and presents the wide array of institutions and buildings that they established for the welfare of women and children in pre-state Israel.

Alongside her meticulous historical documentation based on previously unrevealed archival records, the writer analyses the application of modernist European ideas in the planning of women’s institutional buildings, focusing on the concept of the “new woman.” The book offers a multidisciplinary perspective on the study of gender, architecture and Zionist settlement in the Land of Israel/Palestine.

Dr. Sigal Davidi is an architect and architectural historian. Her research explores the relationship between modern architecture and nationality, migration, old age and gender, and has earned her awards and research grants from leading universities around the world.

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