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NWDS and Ubani create unique bottom's up initiative for the professionals

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Ubani - Tbilisi Cityscape Research Centre co-founded by NWDS officially opened its doors on 13th of March 2024, launching its public programme with a lecture “Realism after Real Socialism” by Pier Paolo Tamburelli, the Italian architect, theorist, and co-founder of the magazine San Rocco. You can find the lecture via link.

Pier Paolo Tamburelli - architect, the head of the research unit in Gestaltungslehre and Design (The Institute of Architectural Design at TU Wien). In 2018, he was a jury member of the XVI International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

1. Nata, could you please tell us what inspired you and your partners to organize such a non-profit institution?

We felt that there is a vast reservoir of knowledge about Tbilisi's architectural and urban environment that needs to be discovered, organized, and made accessible to the public. When it comes to new knowledge production, we aim to blend artistic and scientific approaches to discover the city from unexpected angles.

2. What opportunities due to your opinion this space opens up for the professionals?

We are based in Tbilisi and entirely focused on the city. However, we aim to initiate and sustain a productive dialogue with the international community. This cross-pollination will introduce innovative research methods to local architects and historians while providing international researchers with access to authentic materials.

These types of events are precious for the architectural community since they provide unique dialogue space combined with professional networking, where various topics of ongoing agenda can be discussed. First lecture in Ubani was dedicated to Tbilisi, but Tbilisi is the third episode of the Archive of Real Socialism studios, after Tirana and Belgrade.

For around 50 years, more than 300 million people experienced socialist life with little to no private property and an entirely planned economy. This socialist experience, while at times tragic and undoubtedly disappointing concerning socialist theories and expectations, cannot be treated as nonsense and forgotten. Pier Paolo Tamburelli dedicated his speech to the details of Real Socialism, which are worth investigating, archiving, and exhibiting.

The first three year research programme at Ubani commenced in 2023. It began with the publication of "Hollow: The Map of Tbilisi", a detailed map of Tbilisi’s relief and urban fabric, supplemented with essays on the city’s topography. The first year has focused on delving into Tbilisi’s geological foundation, examining how its rugged terrain has shaped architectural choices. Ubani explores the city’s adaptive architectural strategies amid its unique landscape, ranging from ancient brick masonry to Soviet modernist designs and contemporary realities. NWDS was established in 2013 to comprise architects, designers, curators and researchers from cities spanning the world — New York, Tbilisi, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Dubai. NWDS is preoccupied with unraveling the complexities of urban fabric and crafting a form of architecture that encompasses multiple disciplines, approaches and viewpoints.

Ubani — Tbilisi Cityscape Research Center is a new independent non-profit organization based in Tbilisi that focuses on the exploration of the city’s built environment and landscape. Established in 2023, Ubani is committed to preserving and generating knowledge about Tbilisi, its architecture and urban form.

One of the key Ubani spaces is Ubani Garage which was created jointly with NWDS: Ubani and NWDS took over a former garage on Petriashvili Street. The interior features a special object co-designed with Norwegian architect Tord Johann Larsen Breivik: a bench that integrates traditional carvings from the Racha region into a more contemporary design, synchronizing vernacular methods with a wider urban context.

Ubani Garage is home to the collection of books, academic papers, rare publications, zines, leaflets, albums, photographs, and other printed materials dedicated to Tbilisi, amassed through purchases and donations.

SCHEDULE of the Ubani Public Programme 2024

May - “Tbilisi, unfolding”. Lecture by Sarah Cowles (Ruderal – a site engineering, landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm), moderator — Peter Culley (Spatial Affairs Bureau – an architecture, landscape, and general design studio), exhibition of Barrie Hullegie’s photographic works.
Date - 4th of May
Place - Kinos Sakhli Сreative Hub

June - Lecture with Kristine Darchia – art historian, works in the spheres of Cultural Heritage and Georgian Visual Arts

Date - TBA

Place - Kinos Sakhli Сreative Hub

June - Workshop and exhibition with Kristin Wentzel – a multidisciplinary artist, explores the dual nature of public architecture as both ‘memory foam,’ carrying its history, and open structure, capable of deviating from its original design.

Date -20 - 29 June

Workshop place - Tbilisi State Academy of Art Exhibition place - Kinos Sakhli Сreative Hub

September - Workshop with Nonument Project

Date - TBA

Place - Kinos Sakhli Сreative Hub

September/ October (TBU) - Workshop + Public talk of James O’Brien and Joseph Van der Steen, Eje with Architectural Affairs.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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