ArRe-35/17

HERE, THERE WAS NOTHING
An architect creates a new home.

The starting-point of the film is a drafting kit, which was found in January 2017 at the home of the Reis family in Tel Aviv. It is one of the few belongings that architect Arthur Reis was able to take with him to Palestine in his escape from the National Socialists in Germany. The kit is a symbol of an émigré’s fate, as well as of the architect’s work.

Born in Heilbronn in 1904, Arthur Reis studied Architecture at the Staatliche Bauschule in Munich and went to Chicago in 1926, where he stayed for several years. On returning from the US, he saw no opportunities to work as an architect, so, in 1933, he decided to emigrate to Palestine, which is where his career began. He constructed many buildings of different styles throughout the country.

This film explores a building at Shlomo HaMelech Street 37 in Tel Aviv. This is one of the first buildings realized by Arthur Reis in his new home. Today, the building is part of the “White City”, the largest collection of modern architecture, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

A resident of the house, Marilla Josipovici (née. Wajnberg), who has now been living in the Ground floor of the house for 77 years, tells her life story, which is intimately connected to the building itself. Although the passage of time has left its mark on the building, original materials and components can still be seen. Like many other émigré architects, Arthur adapted his experience with German architecture to the local climate. With this building, Arthur Reis achieved a vivid combination of functional construction with playful accents.

The film tells a story of migration – both of the owner of the house and of the architect himself, who has remained relatively unknown despite his extensive work in Palestine and, later, Israel. In the process of researching this film, documents, plans, sketches, family photos and conversations with the architect’s son were used to reconstruct a part of Reis’s work, and to encourage appropriate treatment of his buildings as heritage sites.

A project by
Britta Dübbelde

watch full film (password protected)
Duration  13:40 min