Georgia’s young democracy has been consistently undermined by many economic, political and territorial pressures, creating a context where real political engagement is often negated by representational democracy and consensus through administration. This suppresses meaningful citizen and NGO participation, and the potential for a political urbanism is in conflict with the generalising tendencies of unrestricted urbanisation. Whilst this trend can be observed globally, its impact on Tbilisi’s urban fabric has been particularly intense, and the city is now struggling to cope with its effects - over densification, severe air pollution, endless traffic and the degradation of public and green space.
This has led to a polarity of responses; the masterplanning of the state which aims to develop the city through symbolic reconstruction projects and city scale strategies, and the particularity of activist and research groups reacting to isolated urban issues. Whilst there is a high level of antagonism within this field of actors, there is no space, physical, virtual or otherwise, for this conflict to be negotiated, resolved or utilised. This suppressed conflict has led to a kind of urban standoff, with a struggling city hall, disillusioned citizens and exhausted activists allowing the power of investor-led development to continue business as usual.
The project challenges the current processes of governance in Tbilisi by providing the infrastructure for a strategic and conflictual urbanism to evolve. Conflict here is considered to be intrinsic to democratic society, yet sits in opposition to the consensus encouraged in Tbilisi’s post-political context. The re-politicising of urbanism is dependent on the provision of an agonistic arena where differences can be confronted and channelled into productive outcomes - and here lies the project of architecture.