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Tour an Unbuilt Oscar Niemeyer Home, a Modernist Retreat in Israel

The low-key curves of this never-finished villa would be a great fit for Palm Springs.

The curves and concrete wonders of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer will always be associated with his home country. But had circumstances shifted slightly, the pioneering Modernist might have also left a substantial legacy in Israel, including a private home with a sweeping, curved roofline.

In 1964, Niemeyer was approached by the Mayor of Haifa, Israel, Abba Hushi, to develop a campus for a new modern university. Niemeyer was near the peak of his fame at that point, having witnessed the completion of Brasilia, the master-planned new capital he designed. During the height of the Cold War, the architect’s renown was near universal; he was awarded both honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects as well as the Lenin Peace Prize.

He wasn’t as well-liked, however, by the new military dictatorship in Brazil that seized power that year. After hearing about the coup while staying in a Lisbon hotel room, Niemeyer, whose office was ransacked by the police, decided decamping to the Holy Land was a good idea. He stay in the country, serving as a guest of Yekutiel Federman, the owner of the Dan Hotels, would be brief. But during his six-month tenure he would conceive of and design a score of homes, buildings, and even high-rises that show his appreciation for the desert environment (only his slender Eshkol Tower in Haifa was ever completed). At the end of his stay, his work was exhibited at a show at the Dan Hotel titled "Six Months in Israel".

This vision for a modern home, the Rothschild Residence in Caesarea, Israel, was completed the following year, when Niemeyer had opened up his office in Paris and begun a lengthy period of working in exile. While it was meant for a site half a world away, the home would easily fit in with the midcentury modern styles of Palm Springs. The plan shows an attempt to mediate the heat and Mediterranean climate of the area, an upscale private development located halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa (Benjamin Netanyahu has a home nearby). Low-key curves hang over, and frame, a central courtyard and pool, offering a cool escape and subdued facade.

This virtual tour was created by Archilogic, a firm that specializes in creating 3D models for architecture and real estate, and allows users to upload floorplans and create their own virtual tours. Check out their tours of unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright projects, including the Ralph Jester House and the Dr. Hugh Pratt Home. Recently, Archilogic officially released spaces.archilogic.com, which allows users to create their own virtual tours by signing up here.

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