The ancient city of Jaffa, 10 minutes south of Tel Aviv, is a jumble of tightly packed structures that crawl downhill to the Mediterranean. Instead of using streets, pedestrians traverse a labyrinth of stairways that guide them between the houses. As a result, the differentiation between public and private space is muttled: One is never quite certain whether a passageway will lead up to someone’s front door or into a plaza or public street.
Central to this is Andromeda, a high-end housing development with views of the Mediterranean, designed by Barlev Architects. The design is guided by a gridded plaza, orienting views toward the sea while directing movement in a perpendicular fashion. The effect of the grid of palms is formal and traditional, recalling garden design from around the Mediterranean basin. A small garden at the terminus of the plaza with a human-scale chessboard acts as a transition zone between public and private spaces. The design employs a variety of different stone treatment – striated, polished, and cut in myriad ways – that are indicative of Israel’s architecture.