Like archaeologists sifting through layers of soil, the architects of this renovation in Tel Aviv, Israel, spent as much time peeling back layers to reveal original beach sand, clay and stone walls as they did designing new habitable spaces inside the structure.

Pitsou Kedem Architects carefully analysed and deconstructed the numerous additions, expansions and remodels that had altered this centuries-old conglomeration, careful to preserve what was found with epoxy resin and reinforce fragile supports.

Subsequent additions in the second phase of the intervention were intentionally minimalist – white walls, marbled floors and basic furniture all woven in and around the space-shaping stone columns and repeating ceiling vaults.

Thin black powder-coated steel deck railings and window trim with simple single-pane glazing gently infilled window gaps as needed, while partitions and doors were added without any attempt at faux traditionalism, leaving clean distinctions between old and new.

From the architects:

“The language of minimalism imbedded in a historic residence in Old Jaffa. The 100 square meter residential home is located in Old Jaffa. Its location is unique in that it is set above the harbor, facing west with all of its openings facing the majestic splendor of the Mediterranean Sea. Whilst it is difficult to determine the buildings exact age, it is clear that it is hundreds of years old. Over the years, it has undergone many changes and had many additions made that have damaged the original quality of the building and its spaces. The central idea was to restore the structure’s original, characteristics, the stone walls, the segmented ceilings and the arches including the exposure of the original materials (a combination of pottery and beach sand).”

“The building has been cleaned of all of the extraneous elements, from newer wall coverings and has undergone a peeling process to expose its original state. Surprisingly, modern, minimalistic construction styles remind us of and correspond with the ascetic style of the past, and this despite the vast time difference between them. The central idea was to combine the old and the new whilst maintaining the qualities of each and to create new spaces that blend the styles together even intensify them because of the contrast and tension between the different periods.”