Richard Kauffmann (1887–1958) was a German-Jewish architect who immigrated to Palestine, known to Jews as Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), in 1920. His architecture was influenced by Mies van der Rohe, a proponent of the International Style, and was applied to the local landscape, laying the architectural groundwork for the nascent State of Israel and the White City, as Tel Aviv's International Style architecture became known.
Richard Kauffmann was born in 1887 in Frankfurt-on-Main, Germany. In 1907, he began to study art but transferred to architecture studies in Amsterdam the following year. In 1909, he moved to the Technical University of Munich, graduating in 1912. In 1914, he opened an office in Frankfurt. In 1919, Kauffmann met Arthur Ruppin, who invited him to design new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
In 1920, he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael. Between 1920 - 1932, Kaufmann was the chief architect of the Hachsharat HaYishuv company of the Zionist movement. Kauffmann designed and initiated, almost alone, a full architectural master plan for the new rural villages of many Kibutzim and Moshavim in the Jezreel Valley, most notably Ein Harod, Kfar Yehoshua, Degania Alef, Kfar Yehezkel and Nahalal. Nahalal, the first Moshav Ovdim, was designed in a circular shape, where public buildings were located in the middle surrounded by a circular road, then the agricultural farm buildings about 20 meters from each other, and then the farms and fields 45 meters wide and hundreds meters long, forming a whole shape of sunshine rays.
His designs for the children's house, kindergarten and school in Degania Alef embodied the social and educational principles of the kibbutz movement. Kauffmann was asked to design the northern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, based on the urban plans of Patrick Geddes. In 1927, he was appointed a member of the British Mandate town planning committee. He built private residences all over the country and participated in design competitions. He was one of the architects of Yerid HaMizrah in 1932–1934. He planned the layout of the pavilions.
Kauffmann designed some new Israeli cities, such as Afula and Herzliya, and neighborhoods in major Israeli cities such as Rehavia, Beit Hakerem, Talpiyot and Kiryat Moshe in Jerusalem, and Hadar HaCarmel, Neve Sha'anan, Bat Galim and Central Carmel in the city of Haifa.
The main idea in his urban planning was the incorporation of Ebenezer Howard's idea of Garden suburbs as a manifestation of the social ideals with the ideals of agricultural-Zionist communities and with the pragmatical needs of the inhabitants of those communities and the settling organizations requests. He was influenced by the Neoclassicist architecture, but his urban and agricultural community planning also addressed the specific environmental and climate conditions.
- The personal papers of Richard Kauffmann are kept at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. The notation of the record group is A175.
- Esther Kauffmann Forsen (ed.), Richard Kaufmann – Architect and Town Planner: A daughter's perspective on his life and work (website)
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