Envelope buildings: architectures of economy in Moshe Zarhy’s industrial projects in Tefen

Dan Handel, Alona Nitzan-Shiftan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the Israeli economy was undergoing radical changes in the 1980s, Moshe Zarhy, one of the country’s celebrated architects, designed a series of experimental industrial buildings that captured the changing role of economic processes. The Tefen industrial area and industrial garden in Northern Israel served as the site for these buildings. It was developed by the Israeli industrialist Stef Wertheimer as a new liberal model for the national industry. Zarhy referred to these projects as ‘envelope buildings’. As the focus of Wertheimer’s industrial development shifted from product to transaction, the design of these buildings had to accommodate uncertainties regarding their programme, tenants, and possible changes in the future. Zarhy’s insistence on the meticulous articulation of building envelopes maintained a level of control that was unprecedented in modernist architecture and contemporary developments in Israel and abroad. This article follows the evolution of Zarhy’s envelope buildings in these projects. It exposes their peculiar trajectory from the apex of technical sophistication and formal articulation to their eventual degeneration. In the Israeli context, this decline of the envelopes reflects changes in macroeconomic circumstances and managerial philosophy. These addressed the need to strip down the cost of projects with the onslaught of the turnkey scheme, which would characterise Wertheimer’s development from the 1990s onwards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-601
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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