Since the Soviet annexation of Georgia in 1922, Tbilisi and the rest of the country started to differ dramatically in all ways imaginable. Architecturally, the rest of Georgia hasn’t been affected as much as the capital city. It can be seen through the mix of Soviet buildings and the beautiful old city from before the Soviet era. While very different, Tbilisi and other cities in the country are still more alike than different. This merging of two vastly different styles produced a city that’s unlike any other on the planet. The legacy of the Soviets remains, but major efforts are undertaken to take the city both to its roots and modernity at the same time.
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The Situation In Tbilisi
To get a good grasp of what’s going on in the city, it’s best to consult someone local. That’s exactly what we did, and today we will discuss David Kezerashvili’s insight into his hometown. As an experienced real-estate developer and entrepreneur, Kezerashivli knows all the ins and outs in Tbilisi. Being born here also helps, allowing him to see what kind of progress has been made with his own eyes. We will also discuss a gem of local architecture built by him right in the middle of the city, Vake Plaza.
Throughout world history, Tbilisi was a very important center. Located on the silk road, right between Asia and Europe. It was a hub for all trade for more than millennia. With history dating back to the 5th century, Tbilisi had many architectural influences. Many can still be seen to this day. The mix of Middle Ages medieval style, neoclassicism, French-styles, Persian, and Armenian notes creates a unique type of local feel. The Stalinist buildings seem to be a blot on the landscape when viewed from this lens. Modern architecture is rapidly developing and it truly shows on the streets of the city.
The Way Forward
Kezerashvili holds the opinion that removing the communist era remains would allow the city center to be restored. David looks to other old cities in Europe such as Barcelona or Rome as inspiration. The grim grey structures aren’t liked by too many people, and most believe they should be due for demolition. This would allow for much-needed restoration and modern structures to revitalize the city.
One of the glaring examples worth mentioning is the Tbilisi Public Service Hall. It’s setting the tone for future structures, one that the public gives a warm welcoming reaction to. Reinvigorating the look of the whole neighborhood, it’s a reminder that transforming Tbilisi doesn’t have to be a hard process. Step by step, Georgians can make it breathtaking again.
When discussing Tbilisi’s modern architecture, it is important to mention Vake Plaza. Born in response to demand for office space. Vake Plaza is the modern business center of choice for both foreign businessmen and locals. A place where entrepreneurs gather, and where the future of Georgia’s economy will be largely decided. Georgia’s transition to a free capitalistic market will result in major economic growth but it will not be overnight. As Georgia is moving on past its restrictive communist policy, so does the environment have to reflect that. Vake Plaza is the place for companies that are ready to make that transition as well.
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Regarding style and aesthetics, Levan Mushkudiani and Khatuna Mikaberidze truly showed what modern design can be. The building was inspired by the style of renowned modern architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Richard Neutra. With a simple yet fascinating design outside, it is definitely one of the landmarks in the city that attracts plenty of attention. Inside, it is comfortable, reserved, and made for work, with efficiency and the least amount of distraction in mind. Stellar would be the word to describe the interiors, and bold from the outside.
With a convenient location right next to Vake Park, a vast area of more than 200-hectares, one could easily see the benefit of taking a walk there after a long workday. As parking is an enormous problem in the city, Kezerashvili planned and built the biggest parking lot in the city, which takes up one-third of the center’s area of more than 30,000 square meters.
When the city gets rid of the unsightly crumbling structures that remain in the Post-Soviet Era, it will pave the road for a renewal of the whole city. When more buildings like Vake Plaza or the Public Hall are built, Tbilisi will be able to claim both a beautiful old town with additional modern architecture.