At first glance, the Orot Cinema building in Beersheba (the largest city in southern Israel, in the Negev Desert) doesn’t look like an architectural treasure. It is an abandoned, dilapidated structure, and visitors have to clear a path through thorns and rubbish just to get to it, only to find that the entrance is blocked. For the most part, a glimpse inside reveals a building in ruins, filled with even more trash. But architects Omri Oz-Amar and Hadas Shadar see beyond that. They contend that the Orot Cinema represents a rare Israeli architectural legacy that should be fostered and preserved. To that end, they formed the Association to Promote the Brutalist Architectural Legacy in Israel. Last January, the association submitted an official request to UNESCO, asking that it recognize Beersheba as a World Heritage Site, representing the Brutalist architectural movement.
Brutalism first emerged after World War II. It reached Israel in the late 1950s. The guiding principle is the prominent use of exposed concrete. The underlying intention was to create efficient, exposed buildings featuring clean straight lines.