Munio Gitai Weinraub
1909 - 1970
Munio Gitai Weinraub is an Israeli architect, one of the pioneers of modern architecture and urban and environmental planning in Israel, and one of the most prominent representatives of the Bauhaus heritage in Israel. Throughout his 36-year career, Weinraub has been responsible for the construction and planning of thousands of housing units, workers’ housing and private homes in and around Haifa. Weinraub took part in the initial planning of the Hebrew University campus in Givat Ram and the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem. From the beginning of his career, Weinraub sought to combine the values of Hans Meyer’s social planning with the meticulous construction art of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His works are designed with deep social sensitivity and are characterized by minimalist geometry, a simple and modest presence, efficient functional planning and the organization of business spaces. Inspired by his teacher Mies van der Rohe, Weinraub chose to give up “problems of form” in order to dedicate himself to “problems of construction” and focus on the act of construction itself, the treatment of the material and the processing of the architectural details.
To “problems of construction” and to focus on the act of construction itself, the treatment of the material and the processing of the architectural details.
Munio Gitai Weinraub was born in the small town of Szumlany in Silesia and grew up in the town of Bielsko-Biała, in the German – speaking region of Poland. His father was a farm manager in the service of Polish landowners and his mother came from a richer background. He was the youngest of four sons and his childhood was spent in the shadow of the difficulties of the First World War. After the war, he joined the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, which combined activities to get to know nature in the spirit of romantic movements such as the German “Wandervogel“, with exposure to Zionist ideology and socialism, and became one of the main habitats of the Zionist movement.
When he was eighteen, in 1927, he tried to be accepted to study architecture at the Bauhaus school in Badassaubut, he was first recommended. Enroll in the Tischlerschule School of Art, Berlin, where he studied drawing, perspective and traditional furniture design, and acquired a deep understanding of woodwork and carpentry. In 1930 he applied again to the Bauhaus and began his studies. Weinroib’s ambition to study at Bauhaus is consistent with the activism of Hashomer Hatzair, of which he was a member. Walter Gropius – who founded the Bauhaus in 1919 as an anti-academic school of the “Arts & Crafts” type, succeeded in giving expression to the cooperative spirit of the younger generation, who sought to break free from the barren social and political attitudes that led to the First World War. “Cathedral of Socialism” – this is a fitting metaphor for the description of the early Bauhaus, which devoted itself to the design of a new society. The school was built on the myth of the guilds in the Middle Ages, and the design project was perceived in the spirit of the collaborative ethos. The Bauhaus was an obvious choice for idealistic students with left-leaning tendencies, like Weinroib. He was recruited to work in the office of the then headmaster of the school Ludwig Miss van der Rohe in Berlin. Weinroib’s main task was to supervise the installation of a number of works at the 1931 German Construction Exhibition held in the city.
With the rise of Nazism in 1933, he immigrated to Israel. In 1934 he settled in Haifa, which became the municipal base of the Hebrew labor movement and has close ties with the Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim, when he took part in the planning and design of sixteen of the settlement points established by the movement. The leadership roles he held in the movement as a teenager instilled in him a sense of solidarity with such cooperatives.
Between 1937 and 1959, the partnership was established with the architect Al Mansfeld, Monio Weinroib and Al Mansfeld Architects. The firm’s main occupation was in the service of the local institutions of the labor movement and in the planning of schools, cultural buildings, factories, workers’ housing, kibbutzim, private residences, office buildings and industrial facilities. The distinctive features of their joint work are evident in the reduction of the status of orthogonal compositional patterns and a preference for pragmatic solutions. In 1949, Weinroib was elected head of the architecture department in the planning department of the Ministry of Labor and Construction, headed by Aryeh Sharon. As head of the department, he participated in drawing up the initial planning policy of the State of Israel.
In 1951, the Weinreub partnership won Mansfeld the first prize in the competition for the planning of the government complex in Jerusalem. In addition, the firm won a dozen more national competitions in the 1950s. Weinroib and Mansfeld began teaching in the Faculty of Architecture at the Technion in the 1950s. Their academic roles, combined with the challenge of continuous architectural creation, influenced their evolving theoretical conceptions and the collaboration between them came to an end in late 1959.
From that year on, Weinroib continued on an independent path and worked mainly for clients who enabled him to create an architecture imbued with social sensitivity, often collaborating with the labor movement, kibbutzim and various educational institutions. One of his most recent projects was the design of the Gil-Am water tower (a rehabilitation institution for delinquent youth in Shefar’am). This project best of all embodies the commitment he has felt throughout his life to creating a useful, meticulously designed architecture that harnesses great expertise in working with material to achieve a relaxed minimalist aesthetic.
In his 35-year career, Weinroib has established a significant body of work that stands at about 300 projects, with consistent application of the Bauhaus principles and their development. He left behind a number of masterpieces, such as the Type residential block – the Hydaural Institute at the Technion in Haifa.
Weinroib died on September 24, 1970 in Haifa at the age of 61 and was buried in Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk.
1909 - 1970
1909 - 1970
After a fruitful 36-year career, Weinraub was responsible for building workers’ housing units with thousands of housing units, private homes in and around Haifa, kibbutzim, industrial buildings, public buildings and educational institutions; Among other things, Weinraub took part in the initial planning of the Hebrew University campus in Givat Ram and the Yad Vashem Memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. He tried to integrate the ideas he learned from his teachers at the Bauhaus and together with the values of Hans Meyer’s social planning
and among the meticulous construction art of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His works excel in so-called “styleless” architecture – they are designed with deep social sensitivity and are characterized by minimalist geometry, simple and modest presence, efficient functional design and business space organization. Inspired by his teacher Mies van der Rohe, Weinraub chose to give up “problems of form” in order to dedicate himself to “problems of construction” and focus on the act of construction itself, the treatment of the material and the attention to the architectural details.
Many of the most interesting work orders Weinraub received were related to the Histadrut’s initiatives to promote Hebrew labor. He designed some of the industrial buildings of two prominent factories in the field of construction: the Phenicia glass factory and the Vulcan iron and metal industries, both of which sat in the Haifa Bay area. These factories were among the first on such a scale to be built in Israel, and they played a significant role in changing the economic base of the region. For Phenicia, Weinraub built a huge structure, with a wide interior space – a key surrounded by metal ribs, and a sloping roof decorated with a skylight with controlled windows for lighting and ventilation. However, the large production resembled a column-free basilica, and was one of the largest (if not the largest) spaces built in Israel at the time. In 1941, the Phenicia glass factory was the first large-scale building products industry to be acquired by Solel-Boneh, a subsidiary of the Histadrut, followed by the Vulcan iron and metal industries, whose facilities and furnaces were designed by Weinraub that year.
Weinraub designed two more factories that enabled the establishment of Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk: the Naaman factory for the production of burnt bricks (1939-1950) and Oscar Paint Industries (1938-1940).
Two other projects were the design of the “Lighthouse for the Blind” educational institution in Kiryat Haim and the new dining room of Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk. Weinraub and Mansfeld have many projects for the Histadrut institutions and its members, those that have been built and those that have remained on paper, including about 8,000 housing units for workers’ subsidiaries such as Shikun-Ovdim and Solel-Boneh. The most prominent of these projects, apart from the Beit Hapoalim compound in Hadar, was the warehouse and office building of Hamashbir HaMarkasi, the cooperative that marketed the produce of all the collectives in the Hebrew community.
In addition to their activities in the country, which is so vital in the young country and the advancement of industrial planning in Israel, Weinraub and Mansfeld were also involved in three major projects concerning the design of national identity, all in Jerusalem: the first – a Yad Vashem planning proposal, a monument to Holocaust victims; The second – a construction plan for the government complex in Jerusalem; And the third is the building design of the Meiser Institute (now Feldman), one of the main buildings on the new campus of the Hebrew University of Givat Ram, which played a significant role in the establishment of a national culture.