The Setai Tel Aviv

Preserving the Past, Designing the Future: Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Preservation at The Setai Tel Aviv

Reviving the Past

Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Preservation gives new purpose to old structures, illuminating their potential in the modern world. In hospitality, it transforms historic buildings into unique hotels, marrying old-world charm with contemporary needs. It is not merely about ‘recycling’ old buildings; it’s about understanding their historical and cultural value, appreciating their architectural merit, and finding ways to repurpose these characteristics to benefit the present and future generations. 

A prime example is The Setai hotel in Tel Aviv. It is a site with roots that extend back to the Crusader era. From a fortress to an Ottoman Empire compound, from a walled compound to a jailhouse, and a police station.

The Setai Tel Aviv
Kishle Restaurant

From Relic to Modern Marvel

In 2005, the Nakash family began the transformation of the building into a hotel, where today, guests can live a slice of history in the lap of luxury. That’s where we, at ara Design, stepped in, helping to convert a relic of the past into a modern masterpiece. Our mission wasn’t just about designing a hotel, but about telling stories through spaces, preserving the building’s historical value while accentuating it with the strokes of the present.

Unveiling History

The hallways of The Setai Tel Aviv speak of the past, the stone walls show its age. While restoring the original structures, we found hidden treasures like walls, rooms, and historical secrets. A thrilling prospect, isn’t it? To have the opportunity to unearth a forgotten past while carving the future. That’s precisely what makes our work at ara Design, not just a job, but a delightful adventure. Every wooden beam, every ironwork, every cobblestone we preserved is a time capsule for our guests to explore.
One of the most fascinating revelations during the restoration was the discovery of a multitude of artifacts, remnants of different civilizations stacked on top of each other. Finding Roman, Christian, and Turkish objects jumbled together was like unearthing a storybook of history, an archaeologist’s delight, and a storyteller’s dream.

This project was a collaborative effort with the Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel Preservation Society, Feigin Architects, and preservation architect, Eyal Ziv. Our goal was to respect the past while designing for the future. The result is a guest experience that combines the allure of history with the comforts of modern luxury. A visit to The Setai Tel Aviv today feels like stepping into a world where the past and present converse—where Ottoman archways meet sleek furnishings, where centuries-old stone rubs shoulders with modern materials like glass and brushed bronze metal. 

Adaptive reuse celebrates the lasting impact of good design, honoring heritage, advocating sustainability, and showcasing creativity. The Setai Tel Aviv’s transformation from fortress to hotel epitomizes this balance between preserving history and adopting modern design.

After the notable achievement of the Setai Hotel in Tel Aviv, the Nakash family has chosen to continue our collaboration with two distinctive new properties. Each property possesses its own very unique charm and character.
The refurbishment of the Setai Miami, a fashionable fusion at the convergence of East and West and the new Setai Glamping, an oasis of tranquility inspired by the Sea of Galilee and its beautiful scenery.

At ara Design, we believe that architecture is more than buildings; it’s about what they tell and experiences they offer.