In 1955 there was a decree about “Fighting against excesses in architecture” in Soviet Union. This resolution drastically changed course of development of Soviet architecture. Main challenge of this period was to provide residents with living space. New regions and micro districts were covered with typical housing projects developed in architectural design institutes. However individual projects for houses with different functions were developed too. Different trends connected to local traditions or environment, manifest themselves in architecture of Soviet Union. Finding new face and form of national architecture is a hot topic for Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia.
It’s been a couple of years since Ana Chorgolashvili started to research Soviet Modernist Architecture of Tbilisi. As she says, at the same time with the unique and interesting Soviet architecture, we often meet typical soviet buildings. Functionally, this group is more or less correct and have less architectural value. However they’re still interesting because they express a specific time and era attitudes. Most often, existing Soviet Modernist Architecture in Georgia are not properly taken care of, and some of them even are in risk to be destroyed.
Ana’s book “Guide to Soviet Modernist Architecture in Tbilisi” was published couple of months ago and so far there are only two copies of it. This book presents to us soviet buildings built in 1955-1991 in the form photo materials, they are divided in categories and there is a map on the last page, with its help you can easily find those buildings. The book is in English and as the author points out, it’ll be more interesting for those tourists who want to learn more about architecture of Tbilisi. Book’s size is 9X14 cm, it can be easily put into the pocket and makes it convenient to carry it along.
“This Guide is dedicated to Soviet Tbilisi Modernist Architecture of 1955-1991. The book contains exceptional works of Soviet Modernist Architecture in Tbilisi, buildings are grouped by their initial function.
Unfortunately part of this important architectural heritage was destroyed during the years, part of them is still in danger of being roughly changed or dismantled altogether.”
IDAAF asked Ana couple of questions:
What’s architectural culture left in Georgia, specifically in Tbilisi from Soviet heritage, is there something unique and exceptional?
There are a couple of buildings from Soviet architecture heritage of Tbilisi which are of particular importance on local or international scale. For example the former building of road constructing ministry has number of times been in the spotlight of such newspapers/magazines and publishing houses as: “New-York Times”, “The Guardian”, “Domus”, “Sub/Urban”, the paper of New-York Art Museum “Transformations in modern architecture” and so on. Other architecturally significant soviet buildings in Georgia were printed in the issue of famous publishing house “Taschen” – “Frederic Chaubin: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed”, publication and exhibition organized by group of Architekturzentrum Wien researchers – “Soviet modernism 1955-1991 unknown story”.
How should we treat this many soviet buildings, how should we know if the building is valuable and how should we look after them?
First of all we must not destroy them, this is the main condition for preserving Soviet architectural heritage. As for the value estimation, in Soviet Union since 50s of 20th century “typical” projects for living spaces and public buildings were worked on. We meet “typical” models like this in Georgia too, functionally these buildings are somewhat well planned, but they have little architectural value. However these buildings are interesting too as the objects expressing ideology or attitude of specific time and era. As for individual projects, each of them are unique, every one of them needs a plan for specific research and rehabilitation.
Is it planned to release more copies of this book?
So far there is only a digital version and two physical prints of the guide. This project happened with the help of book art center and the print version was created for the exhibition organized by them. As for the copies, I’m working on it.
What’s happening about researching soviet architecture in Georgia, considering that there are different institutes worldwide studying specifically this field?
Interest in Soviet architecture in western as well as in eastern Europe is rising step by step. There are research institutes formed in former socialist or soviet republics, interesting web-pages and publications are made about architecture of this period. In Tbilisi this process is more or less in progress. Several researchers are working in this field, also should be noted online database created by Docomomo Georgia about Georgian Soviet Modernist Architecture.
Author: Nanuka Zaalishvili
English Edit: Meri Khamkhadze