Design of Georgian cultural venue for historical Leuville estate near Paris unveiled

Set to host cultural events and sales of Georgian souvenirs, the house has been designed to resemble the 'oda' type traditional family residences built in Georgia's west. Image: ministry of culture, 21 Sep 2022 - 14:26, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's culture ministry has unveiled the design of a traditional Georgian house that will be built in the historical Leuville estate near Paris to host cultural events, in the latest development in plans for the estate that housed the government-in-exile of Georgia's first democratic republic following the Soviet invasion of the country in 1921.

The house, built after the type of traditional oda family residences used in the country's west, will be first constructed in Georgia using locally sourced materials, before it is disassembled and transported to the location 37 kilometres south of the French capital, to take a prominent position in the plot handed to Georgia in 2016 in recognition of its historical significance.

Designed with the area of 275 square metres and set to stand on stone beams, the house will be built from wood, with the material already sourced and set to be used by Georgian professionals for the construction.

It will be placed in the estate and host "cultural and creative activities" in its hall, the ministry said, while a side room will host sales of Georgian souvenirs. The venue is part of a wider project establishing a Georgian-French memorial centre in the location, launched over the recent years following the location's handover to the Georgian state.

Built on a design by architect and restoration professional Tariel Kiparoidze, the house will join an academy venue, museum and archival spaces, a library, a conference hall and other facilities in a bid to create a Georgian "multiprofile cultural and educational centre in Europe", seen as a continuation of the history of the estate.

Details of the 2016 handover of the estate to Georgia stipulate a "complete rehabilitation" of the location, with the ministry saying the entire infrastructure is set to open in the locality with the deadline of September 2026.

Georgia’s connection with the estate began in 1921, when the then-chairman of the government Noe Zhordania, government members and a handful of representatives and their families boarded the French ship Ernest Renan to escape the Soviet invasion of Georgia in February of that year. Settling in Leuville, about 30 Georgian émigrés lived in 15 flats inside the chateau of the estate, facing material hardship over the years.

In 2011 France agreed in principle to transfer ownership of the estate to Georgia after it was officially recognised as a symbolic place for Georgia and a place of historical importance, with the process accelerated in the mid-2010s and following the official conclusion of the handover.