2017 Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi Courtyards.

“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.” 
[Jane Jacobs] 

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 is to research and analyse one of the traditional Tbilisian courtyard archetypes. 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)

With this workshop, we hope to determine the characteristics and come up with different modules that constitute good courtyards. The Master Class participants will develop 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 is 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.

The Master Class will be supervised by Lorenz Dexler, landscape architect and managing partner at Topotek1 in Berlin and Marc Glaudemans (Stadslab founding director). They will be 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.


Participation in the Master Class is free and consists of the full workshop program with lectures, fieldtrips and studio work. Included are also a welcome dinner and closing drinks. Not included are travel costs, accommodation, (other) meals, visa and insurances and other expenses.

Application deadline is April 1. Further details and the application form can be found in the Application Package (attached). Applications will be selected based upon the CV and motivation letter and order of submissions. We strive to have a balanced mix of Georgian and international participants and different disciplinary backgrounds in the team. Applicants will be notified before April 15 about the status of their application.

Application Package (PDF)

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