GEORGIA – Italian architecture in Tbilisi
In Georgia Italy has always been famous for many of its qualities such as art, food, music, cinema, fashion and football. In the last 15 years, however, it has begun to make itself known also for architecture, thanks to two great architects who have redesigned the skyline of Tbilisi.
In fact, the Georgian government in 2004, to start a political-cultural renaissance in the country, to redo the look and to transform Tbilisi into a cosmopolitan city, hired the italian (from Ferrara) architect and designer Michele De Lucchi.
One of the first projects entrusted to him by President Saakashvili was the redevelopment of the Rike district, near the city center, where a new park was built and where the new Presidential Palace was built (which is very reminiscent of the Reichstag in Berlin), whose works, which started in 2004, ended in 2009.
Subsequently, De Lucchi was also entrusted with the construction of the new building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a structure built in 2008, built on an area of 50,000 square meters, entirely covered with glass and reminiscent of the shape of a corrugated ribbon.
The following year, the architect also oversaw the construction of the Bridge of Peace, which connects the historic Berikoni district to the Rike district, crossing the Mtkhvari river and immediately becoming one of the symbols of the Georgian capital. It is sinusoidal in shape, consisting of steel pipes and trapezoidal glass elements. Seen from afar, the bridge seems to be suspended over the water, as the only supports are located along the two banks of the river. The work was conceived as a real bridge between ancient and modern, not only because it divides the historic center from the renewed Rike district, but also because it symbolizes the ambitions of a country that wants to look ahead without forgetting its identity.
After this important collaboration, it was then up to Massimiliano Fuksas, one of the best known architects internationally, to enrich the skyline of Tbilisi with new works. The first structure built by Fuksas in the Georgian capital was the Tbilisi Public Service Hall, currently home to numerous administrative offices, a few hundred meters from De Lucchi’s Bridge of Peace, is made up of seven cantilevered volumes covered with glass, arranged around to a large central square. Finally, the entire structure is covered with 11 large “petals” that differ in geometry and size, structurally independent of the rest of the building and supported by a tree-pylon structure.
Another work created by the Roman architect, completed on the exterior but unfortunately not yet used, is the Music Theater and Exhibition Hall, born as a periscope from the Rike park to reach out towards the city, in fact it is composed of two volumes vaguely shaped like large pipes and connected as a single body to a retaining wall.