2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
“Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.... for really new ideas of any kind--no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be--there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”
Following the ideas, so well-formulated by the American-Canadian journalist and activist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), we believe that a city needs vibrant streets and sidewalks, and a diverse but cohesive social structure to flourish. When restoring the physical aspects of old cities, often these intangible qualities are overlooked and the result might be shining but dull and potentially unsuccessful and unsafe neighborhoods. The aim of the workshop was to research and analyse Tbilisian courtyards along D. Agmashenebeli Avenue. The courtyards are important elements of the city, which during centuries have played an important role in everyday life of the citizens and can be found both in old and later developed parts of Tbilisi. We believe that researching these courtyards and discovering their historical role in shaping the neighborhood community and finding their role in the future city is an important aspect both for Tbilisi and other cities in Georgia.
The case study was chosen based on the recent renovation of Agmashenebeli avenue, where a small semi-commercial and traffic loaded street was turned into a luxurious commercial and pedestrian area. This intervention into daily routine left the neighborhood with a new habitat, and further alienated the intimate semi-private spaces of the courtyards from the newly renovated busy street.
Master Class (May 17-21, 2017)
An international group of 17 participants determined the characteristics and qualities that constitute these courtyards. The Master Class participants developed a multitude of strategies for social and spatial design to rejuvenate these courtyards and rethink their role in the Tbilisi of the 21st century. The goal was to reconsider the social and cultural value of the Tbilisi historical courtyards and to propose urban redevelopment and place-making strategies for these sites; creating a basis for the research and planning method to be used in other districts of old and new Tbilisi in the upcoming years. In just 4 days the teams developed proposals and produced an exposition in a vacant shop on the Agmashenebeli Avenue, where residents, passers-by and professional planners and architects could see the results and engage in lively debates with the designers.
The Master Class was supervised by Lorenz Dexler, landscape architect and managing partner at Topotek1 in Berlin and Marc Glaudemans (Stadslab founding director). They have been supported by local Research Group ‘Urban Experiments’ (Nino Nadareishvili, Shota Saganelidze, Nutsa Kandelaki) and Irakli Zhvania, Architect, Urban Planner and Visiting Professor at the Ilia State University.