Most progressive and modernist – Georgia’s 20th century building regarded as world masterpiece
27 February, 2016
Most progressive and modernist – Georgia’s 20th century building regarded as world masterpiece
The modernist building that has endured decades and proudly stands tall in the outskirts of Tbilisi at the Mtkvari River was designed by Georgian architects Zurab Jalaghania and Giorgi Chakhava and constructed by engineer Temur Tkhilava. The building was constructed for the Georgian Ministry of Highway Construction and completed in 1975. In total the costs of it amounted to 6 million rubles. The building that represents world’s one of the most progressive architectural examples of 20th century, stands out for
its post-constructive and modernist style. It is noteworthy that The New York Times named it as the “Surprising Discovery of the West”, moreover the building was listed by many international publications as one of the most vivid and marvelous buildings of the Soviet architecture (Georgia was part of the Soviet Union back then.)
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Big parts of the building are lifted off the ground, the landscape runs through beneath. The structure is visible from far, three major roads leading from Tbilisi to the north pass the site. The design is based on a concept named Space City method. The idea was to use and cover less ground and give the space below the building back to nature. The architect's reference was a forest: the cores are like the trunk, the horizontal parts the crowns. Between the earth and crowns there is a lot of free space for other living beings, which create one harmonious world with the forest. The Space City method is based on the same principle.
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As Giorgi Chakhava , one of the authors of the building said, he drew his inspiration from Georgia’s unique nature with its individuality and beauty of each region in harmony with mountain villages. The Georgian architect was internationally recognized and respected. In 1983 he received the State Prize of the USSR Council of Ministers. In 1991, he became an Honored Member of the International Academy of the Architecture of the Oriental Countries.
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Giorgi Chakhava

Describing the building, New York Times architecture critic Nikolai Ouroussoff said, "Rising on an incline between two highways, the building’s heavy cantilevered forms reflect the Soviet-era penchant for heroic scale. Yet they also relate sensitively to their context, celebrating the natural landscape that flows directly underneath the building. The composition of interlocking forms, conceived as a series of bridges, brings to mind the work of the Japanese Metabolists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, proof that Soviet architects weren’t working in an intellectual vacuum."

In 1981 New York Museum of Art published a work named Transformations in Modern Architecture where the building of the Georgian Ministry of Highway Construction was listed among the world’s architectural masterpieces.. Apart from that this iconic and extremely modernist building of Georgian architects has been featured in many international magazines and popular publications. In 2011 The Guardian published an article Cosmic Communist Constructions where Georgia’s modernist buildings, including the latter one were depicted in the photos by Frédéric Chaubin, who visited Georgia in 2003 and captured the buildings.
At present the headquarters of Bank of Georgia is located in this 18-storey historic building.

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