This article is devoted to an element, which has a crucial function, a little bit magical and subtle architectural element – an arch.
One of the oldest architectural elements – an arch is still an integral part of both exterior and interior. For many years, it has been interpreted in a lot of different forms. Placed between the inner courtyard and the street spaces, often overlooked and simply having the function of “arches”, today in our article will be presented with all their diversity and mystery.
Arch – architectural detail, a curved roof between two pillars or wall opening.
In the old and new districts of Tbilisi, the stylistic appearance of arches is quite different. Despite their historical and cultural value, today the situation is equally bleak, as the majority of arches are in need of restoration, are contaminated or have become public toilets.
Among the list of arches needing restoration is an arch on 13, Chonkadze street, entrance of the Persian ambassador’s former housing. Before World War I, until Soviets came to power, the building stood out with its fabulous arches. Nowadays, those characterized with Asian symbols are cracked, plasters have fallen, and the gates are leaning against the inside of the arch. The once sophisticated ornaments have lost their outline due to some unprofessional renewal and several layers of paint on top. However, the cracked arch with its yellow and blue tones still retains its charm.
Similarly interesting is the arch at 3/5 Tabidze street. Its origins are European. The street and yard facades are radically different from each other, both in stylistic and physical terms. Street side of the facade is lined with stone and the entrance is decorated with gable. Yard side is a wooden glass gallery, severely burdened with several air-conditioning units. The walls of the tunnel are decorated with ornaments, while the ceiling is decorated with a caisson. White surfaces are covered with mold and webs, there is plenty of garbage too. Despite the fact that in the neighborhood there are food points, mud puddles and their fragrance is quite unpleasant.
Another worthwhile example is at 18, Melikishvili street. Here the arch is to connect two streets, in particular, avenue and its perpendicular street. It is an unambiguous dominant over the building facade and inserted in scale, interestingly breaks the rhythmically repetitive openings. Its appearance overlooking the avenue is more or less appropriate. In the transition part you will find a lot of theater posters and interesting photo portraits on the ceiling. At the back traditional disorder begins. Fortunately, walls overwhelmed with cooling-heating and ventilation air ducts are covered with the greenery of the trees.
Tbilisi “arches” are outstanding with their internal micro diversity. You will find everything in this transition part of the building – a restaurant, a lawyer, a closet door that can be used to shoot a horror film, balcony, theater posters, shoe repair shop and a shoemaker thereby, electrical distribution boards, etc.
Tbilisi arches in the recent past, in Soviet times, and today have never had aesthetic significance and were only functional and self-limited. Most of the arches today are much alike with a lot of scribbles among which you might come across a small-scale graffiti, tangled cables, fallen plaster and chaotically pasted ads.
Author: Tata Alkhazashvili
English edit: Nutsa Namoradze