Project Orient

Location

Tbilisi (Georgia)

Client

GMT, Tbilisi (Georgia)

Year

2006 (plan)

Status

Plan

Program

Offices, Housing, Hotel, Retail

Project Orient

Who can count the sand in oceans,
Or the stars in skies at night?
Who can praise the sons of Georgia
Men who fought for Georgia’s right?
Wonder speaks of deeds exalted
In a loud and ringing cry,
Of the grace of God and blessings
Shed upon our land from high.
Gone is all that former glory
Relics of it ever glow
In the colors of the rainbow,
Pouring light on us below.
A symbol chaste of Kingdoms seven,
Shining forth in colors bright,
Whispering: Georgia still is sleeping
For it waits the dawn of light


Avenue Rustaveli in Tbilisi reminds us of the famous Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli who wrote this poem about his country in the 13th century. Once upon a time, this renowned avenue was home to Hotel Orient, the most elegant hotel in the capital. An interesting mix of buildings combining political, religious and social functions now surround this – currently barren – site. While this imposes special demands on the refurbishment of the site, it also invites a design which reflects the ambiance, quality and dynamics of the area. This idea is reinforced by the municipal council’s wish for a street with museums and galleries behind the building site of the planned new construction and adjacent blocks. The existing urban structure and the significance of the site require a design which blends into the urban tissue and which lends the building block a dignified, contemporary air.

Designed for the former location of Tbilisi’s famous Hotel Orient on Avenue Rustavelli, in the direct vicinity of government buildings and churches, this multifunctional complex includes residential, office and retail facilities arranged around a central courtyard. The main axes of the building follow those of the built environment but are slightly rotated in relation to it. At the centre of the axes, a glass dome crowns the complex. At the base of the dome at floor level, there is a Georgian cross which fits into an octagon. This plan provides a modern interpretation of a very typical element in Georgian tradition.

The complex is enveloped by glass, made as accessible as possible at ground level. At various points, the glass shell is broken to introduce more daylight into the complex and to give glimpses of the dynamics within the building, the glass overhead bridges or inner gardens.

On the parterre, the ground floor and the first floor, there are shops and a large art gallery. The art gallery can be accessed by way of easy steps leading from the museum street. The upper storeys accommodate the offices and apartments. From the inner courtyard, the offices are accessible via overhead bridges, and there is also a centrally located lift. The functions of the shop, homes and offices are interchangeable, providing the building with great future potential.

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