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Talfiot market in Haifa - a genius creation in endless renovation

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At the eastern end of Sirkin Street, stands the Talpiot Market building, a world architectural creation, which has been under renovation for 4 years...

The background for the construction of the market building

The building was established by virtue of the decision of the Hadar Carmel Committee following the problems that arose during the 30s regarding the commercial activity in the commercial center in the lower city:

  • Problematic accessibility for the residents of Hadar HaCarmel
  • Security problems as a result of the events of 1929 and 1936
  • A very impressive increase in the population of Hadar Carmel, which in 1939 reached 35,000 inhabitants.
  • In addition to this, the Arab monopoly on the agricultural produce market harmed the development of Jewish farms in the Jezreel Valley and the surrounding area.
Talpiot Market Building (Illustration: Dr. David Bar On)

The market building

In 1937, the Hadar Carmel Committee, after purchasing a plot of land at the eastern end of Sirkin Street which was already a commercial street, announced an architectural competition for the design of a modern market building. 96 (!) design proposals were submitted to the competition and the content was selected by the jury which also included 2 representatives from the Technion: Prof. Yochanan Ratner, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Dr. M. Neuman, at the suggestion of Architect Moshe Gerstel in collaboration with Engineer C. Cohen. 

Their proposal included a 4-story building above a basement floor, designed in the Bauhaus style: a stucco-finished building with a simple engineering shape consisting of a prism and half a cylinder, continuous strip windows with prominent cornices along the facades and extensive use of glass bricks in the roof of the central space that occupied the heart of the building. Three levels are intended for trading of its various types, while the upper level is intended for the offices of the Hadar Carmel Committee and various agricultural organizations. The basement floor was used as an operational area.

The construction took only two years (!) between the years 1938-1940, and the inauguration of the building was on 9.4.40

Architect Moshe Gerstel (1886-1961)

Moshe Gerstel was born in Galicia (Poland) but studied architecture in Vienna, where he graduated in 1914. In the First World War he enlisted in the Austrian army and upon his release began a professional career in Austria and Romania (Bucharest). Immigrated to Israel in 1933 (his fifth year) and settled in Haifa.

Here he designed a number of public buildings: House of Industry, Old Carmel Hospital and the most famous of them Talpiot market building. He also designed residential buildings, "urban villas", most of them for the affluent Arab population. He is considered a modernist architect who combined an oriental building tradition (stone construction) with modern elements of the Bauhaus style, which he knew well during his time in Europe. Journalist Naama Riva, in an article In the newspaper "Haaretz" she called Gerstel "the forgotten genius of Israeli architecture".

The building that knew mostly slopes

After the festive opening in 1940 with about 200 merchant stalls, the market knew mostly ups and downs. It is true that the new market helped the Jewish farms to market their produce, but the Second World War and the War of Independence that followed caused an economic slowdown. After a brief recovery, in the 50s, the merchants began to suffer from increasing criminal activity.

The Haifa Municipality's attempts to eliminate the wild peddling outside the market building were unsuccessful, and the attempt to privatize the market was also unsuccessful. In the 90s there was a further decline in market activity due to the socio-economic changes that occurred in the Hadar Carmel population and the changes in the buying habits of the entire population. The activity in the building was reduced to only one floor, the other floors were locked and the physical condition of the building continued to deteriorate until there were centers of physical danger to the public.

The situation today

In view of the sad condition of the building today, it is appropriate that we remember the words that Mayor Shabtai Levy said at the building's dedication ceremony: "His imagination and creative genius (of Gerstel) gave the city of the future Haifa, a building that you can be proud of."

Indeed, the building was declared a "building for conservation" by the Municipality of Haifa and it began restoration and renovation work on the building in 2020. The construction of the building took only two years (!) while its restoration has already been going on for 4 years...

Dear readers

The articles in this section are based on open information published in sources such as Wikipedia and other websites and may include various historical inaccuracies arising from the aforementioned sources.

Contact Chai here: At watsapBy email

Dr. David Bar On
Dr. David Bar On
Dr. David Bar On • Architect and urban planner

More articles from the same reporter

32 תגובות

  1. To everyone who wrote to me: a building for preservation has added value.
    If the same building is built 1:1, there is no difference and no one will feel any "added value".
    The Talpiot market should be destroyed, a large underground parking lot should be built for about 1000 vehicles like they did in Orchestra Square in Tel Aviv and all the streets of the market should be closed to vehicles, the entire Talpiot market complex should be rebuilt with a large and beautiful public square, and the Talpiot market building should be rebuilt above the parking lot
    With elevators and new systems and earthquake standards - which he does not meet.
    This city moves in reverse instead of forward.
    This city thinks small and old instead of future and new.
    Once they thought forward, today in Haifa they think backward.
    No matter the mayor, also "back" to the 81-year-old, not forward.
    The "glorious past" of a simple market building doesn't matter either.
    What changes is the current situation where the whole market is stuck outdated and dilapidated.

  2. More than five years have passed and Einat Kalish has not been able to restore even one floor out of the three floors in the historic building in Talfith. So five years ago there were indeed a lot of statements and there were huge budgets, but the bottom line - five years have passed and the building is still locked, abandoned and closed to the public.

  3. The market building was built before 1980 with walls of honeycomb concrete and silicate bricks, heaven forbid!! - TAMA 38 should be urgently applied to it and destroyed - the failed municipal engineer Aliba.

  4. It's nice to know that the "people" of Haifa *delete comments!*
    It's not fun for them to read the opposite of their concept.
    Amma - won't help them.
    It must be written and stated repeatedly explicitly: Haifa is run by incompetent and incompetent personalities for many decades!!
    A city surrounded by sea that was destroyed by its leaders.
    *** On the one hand, damages like: block the sea with a railroad + 2 commercial ports + 2 naval base!!!
    *** On the other hand, lack of development of: technological industry and attracting a strong population to the city (despite 2 universities and a large hospital!
    And anyway.

  5. In a few days, at Ha'am Pesach, all the stalls will move from the basement floor to the first floor. It is hoped that all the floors of the building will be used as a modern and pleasant market.

    • thank you for your response. We'll live and see, I hope your words come true. Happy holiday!

  6. City leaders - trash cans.
    A city in Israel with Yam Shibul with a train, 2 ports, a navy base and much more.
    Your destruction wakes up and continues.
    Idiots in license, when the resident citizens are lazy, injured and ignored!
    Wretched - a huge compliment for you!

  7. Big Shafu for your wonderful paintings on the subject of the historical buildings in Haifa and the documentation that accompanies them. The city's entrepreneurs should pay respect to the Bauhaus buildings that remain intact and restore them as they did in Tel Aviv. There is a situation that your activity on the matter contributes and will contribute to the awakening of the sleepy city that has more landscape and beauty resources than any other city in the country (apart from Jerusalem).

    • Thank you very much for the encouragement, I wish the decision-makers in the municipality would refer to the articles and the responses to them. Happy holiday!

  8. 4 years of renovation what happened during the 4 years? The author does not specify. It probably included architectural planning and interior design, negotiations with the owners of the stalls about the details and possibly engineering reinforcement of the building. It is possible that the building has worn out because time has damaged it and it has not been taken care of since its construction. It is possible that the architectural execution phase has only now arrived. The writer surely knows this. He should To praise the previous municipality for starting the renovation with determination without giving up safety engineering and interior design of the building

    • thank you for your response. I was taught that only the result test is decisive and in this test the municipality failed. Happy holiday!

  9. Einat Kalish did everything to promote and invest in the Talpiot market and today we see the results,
    All we see and Yahav supposedly takes the credit is Einat Klish, including the airport,
    Einat Klish's time is probably past, but her plans for the promotion of the city will be for us for many years to come
    I wish she would come back

    • Say, you're real!!
      5% votes "won" this wretch!
      And you're bragging?!!
      How blind can you be!

  10. It was the market not the stalls and the filth outside. The deterioration and the market began in the 50s after the great increases of the Mizrahim. Over the years the filth penetrated inside... When I was a child I would go with my father to the market but I refused to enter the building because of the dirt and stench there.

  11. The renovation is indeed long, but at least they started to revive it a little at the same time. Anyone can renovate and become another white elephant, but not everyone can revitalize a place and create character for it, and that's what they're doing there now. It will take more time but a little patience and in the end there will be a lively and alive place.

  12. The casino in Bat Galim is in general a story of the movement of construction rights that is not related to this article. In other words, the developer is interested in land equivalent to the land on which the casino building is located.
    And what to do and there is no such thing, so everything is stuck.

    • Thank you for your response, indeed 2 different cases, which represent the same incompetence of the Haifa Municipality. Happy holiday!

  13. Bat Galim is a completely different story. An entrepreneur who received a permit for rehabilitation and in a hurry destroyed the building and then was required by the municipality to rebuild it one by one which is already absurd.
    Indicates careless and ineffective supervision. For the fact that he had to be fined and take the area out of his hands.. that's why there is no analogy between the two.. but the most important thing is that the end of every project is thought and supervision. If they had overcome the hawker stalls, the problem would not have arisen in Talfiot with the delusional combination even today of stalls outside and a stench to the sky. Even in Guatemala I saw a market with a similar structure being a tourist attraction.. so it's not enough to be dragged around with endless renovations.. you finally have to move the stalls outside to the building.. and work with no sense. ...yes...and also to solve the problem of the abandoned casino...although it is wartime now...but wise decisions and actions will live two deteriorating neighborhoods with the potential to be restored.

    • Some people enjoy shaming and hurting. Definately not. Nice place inside. And outside of the many many people visiting the place, it is possible and expected that there will be dirt here and there. We all have to keep the yard and street clean.

    • thank you for your response. There is no Bat Galim casino case similar to the market case. Happy holiday!

  14. Thanks again, David, we learned, we learned. I have known the market since childhood. My parents and I as a little girl used to go around regularly during the weekdays. Today I walk around the market enjoying the very special atmosphere there. I know that many young people like to go shopping there. The place is very special!

  15. Not only a very long renovation but also a huge waste of money!!! A private entrepreneur would have taken half the amount and finished in half the time. I hope the wait was not in vain. We must develop the entire market area and now!!!

  16. The building was built in less than two years.
    Its mock renovation is already taking 6 heavens.
    Proposal: demolish the entire building and rebuild it 1:1 within two years.
    That way it will be possible to build it with a large underground parking lot, with shelters and in the current standard with elevators.
    This is the required decision.

    • Thank you for your response, preserving the original building has added value and all over the world this is done as a matter of routine. Only with us it lasts so long... Happy holiday!

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