Tbilisi Architecture Biennial exploring temporality, transformed spaces

Artist Nino Sakandelidze and architect Thomas Ibrahim are hosting public events as part of the biennial in the space known as Lado's Garden in Tbilisi's Sololaki district, with the idea of discussing possibilities for locals to reclaim the privately owned but publicly used area. Photo: TAB

Agenda.ge, 21 Oct 2022 - 16:27, Tbilisi,Georgia

Questions of temporality in urban space, architecture's coexistence with everyday life and other questions are being explored in the third edition of Tbilisi Architecture Biennial, running in Georgia's capital with the participation of a wide range of Georgian and foreign architects, curators, art historians, artists and more.

For its latest rendition, organisers have structured the biennial theme of Temporality around the concepts of parallel research of time, space, and the built environment, with an eye on exploring the unstable and changing facets of social conditions and living spaces through time.

What’s Next? – It’s a general question, which we ask around several specific topics related to temporality and space. On the one hand, temporary living space is associated with instability and a fragile living surface that can collapse at any moment

- Tbilisi Architecture Biennial organisers

At the same time, the concept of temporality is also looked at from the point of view of artistic and observational work, and its function in creating a "very important and interesting environment" in these studies.

The space of the former 'Kartli' sanatorium served for the opening of the biennial and a focus of its theme of Temporality. Photo: TAB

In these approaches, participants of the biennial event ask questions like "how long can the temporary conditions last?" and "what happens when something that was meant to be temporary becomes permanent?", taking a look at spatial experiences of internally displaced persons who have had to adapt their new-found shelters and environments for uncertain periods of their new lives.

The internally displaced persons and refugees try to adapt to the new living environment over time. However, the constant urge to return home makes present a temporary category. They are caught between two living phenomena: home and shelter

- Tbilisi Architecture Biennial organisers

The Biennial also uses the experience of the measures taken by healthcare authorities against the Covid-19 pandemic to convert public venues into field hospitals and testing sites for the virus, in their study of temporarily established spaces.

They note how the measures "have affected our living environment, changing the way we move around the city and use urban spaces", citing the effects as the bases for the studies of specific spaces as well as "their importance, duration of existence, and impact on the existing environment".

Finally, the theme also involves an exploration of the overlap and transformation between residential areas in former city boundaries, which are replaced by or coexist with newly built spaces as part of changed urban plans created along expansion of city areas. They ask the question "what is a peripheral area of the city and what conditional factors determine its boundaries?" in their effort to dissect the definition of these "distinct residential forms".

A photograph by Katie Okruashvili, one of the photographers featured in the (Im)permanent Circumstances exhibition that trained its lens on internally displaced people through time

The Biennial opened earlier this month at the former 'Kartli' sanatorium in Tbilisi - a dilapidated residential space which for three decades housed families and individuals internally displaced following the 1992-1993 war in Georgia's northwestern region of Abkhazia.

Its relevance to the theme of temporality is doubled for its residents, who had to first adapt to the Soviet-built sanatorium venue as their new shelter following their displacement from the region, and are now being prepared for relocation to flats and houses in the capital and beyond in government plans to address the long-standing issue of the building's dangerous state of integrity.

Other events as part of the biennial involve Digital Solitude Assembly, curated by Giorgi Rodionov and Thomas Dumke and hosted at Untitled Gallery and Goethe Institute in Tbilisi as an event of the Digital Solitude web residency project of Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.

An abandoned construction of a Tbilisi bypass railway project, started in 2010 and now in a state of suspense, will be the central piece in a discussion of new possibilities for use and a related sound performance later this month. Photo: TAB

It will ask questions about solidarity in political and digital transition, the role of digital spaces in "constructing new ideological utopias" and more, with an accompanying exhibition, presentations and working sessions.

A tour of Tbilisi's squatter settlements, offered by researcher Ellena Darjania and sociologist Tata Verulashvili, will guide participants through the areas in the downtown district of Vake and the spaces in Lilo on the outskirts of the city on Sunday.

They will take a look at the districts that have followed urbanisation in the city in relation to "the development of the collapses of the industries and the politics of infrastructure".

Next week, talks and practical work at the Street School multifunctional space in suburbs of the capital will see participants discuss how surroundings of the future should be set up and ways of introducing healthy and energy efficient concepts into living environments.

Book presentations, talks, film screenings and other events also form the remaining programme for the biennial, which is set to run through October 29.