…here are two articles from the New York Times archives on architecture in Georgia. In one, written in 2013, the author asks whether Tbilisi’s new skyline (along with the modern marvels cropping up in Kutaisi and beyond) are “slapdash commercialism ruining the culture’s authentic history or a step toward a more progressive society.” In his survey of the country’s capital, the author points out that “next-gen architecture sits, sometimes uncomfortably, alongside vernacular old-world buildings erected and modified by Persians, Byzantines, Ottomans, Russians and Soviets.” I’ll leave you to judge the level of discomfort there.
The second article, written in 1998, picks up the Soviet tail of vernacular buildings and hints at what our first author bemoans 15 years later–that the sheer amount of history is the architectural layers of Tbilisi needs thorough consideration and preservation, especially as the city and its identity grow after the Soviet dissolution. Stephen Kinzer penned it as part of the New York Times series “Tbilisi Journal”* at a time when the Soviet past certainly shaped both the physical foundation and everyday experience of Tbilisi. Now, when Georgia’s post-Soviet reality is being overtaken by its pre-European dreams, the questions of architectural heritage and cultural identity stand just as thick.
Enjoy this collection of photos too, while you forgive me for not writing sooner (or more!)
*Who would love to see this series come back? Show of hands!