The second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial is conceived under the name ‘What Do We Have in Common.’ We propose to take a closer look at the notion of commonness in our
increasingly individualized and fragmented societies, by investigating its definition and
translating it into our urban fabric.
After the Soviet Union's dramatic collapse, several barely recognized countries were added to the world map. These newly born “post-socialist”
states had to undergo an inevitable but painful transformation from planned to market
economy - an economic transition that has been expressed in both the city's cultural norms
and its urban fabric.
A ‘collectively’ organized society became increasingly individualized, and
its planned urban spaces transformed into more fragmented and divided ones. Entire
processes of urban and socio-economic transition seemed to forget the feeling of common
space and its collectivity. Spaces of common inhabitation and collective use have become
mostly infrastructural, turning into locations of transition and uninterrupted functionality.
The notion of commons unites open resources of any kind: natural, cultural, spatial, material
and immaterial - of which ownership and access are shared. But commons also mean a
collection of practices that govern and maintain these resources and must be preserved as
such. Commons must be reclaimed as finite resources that need to be sustained, nurtured
and managed by communities and professionals. Georgia's rapid shift to a neoliberal political system in the 1990s resulted in a new understanding of these commons - resources that
opened up for commodification and individualization.
The architects, urbanists, and state institutions play a fundamental role in maintaining the
spatial commons, and no more so than in Tbilisi.
In our local reality, the post-soviet spatial, political and social transformation has been
accompanied by many new understandings and new urban vocabulary. The understanding
of common space developed into a very complex issue. By questioning the notion of the
‘common’ we would like to address several layers of urban spaces in Tbilisi and explore the
internal and external, material and imaginary by examining the significance of the
transformation process and the consequences it has had on common spaces.
neighborhood patios, thresholds, roofs of the residential blocks, public parks and squares,
rarely or unused public/private buildings, shared self-governed open spaces - they all belong
to the beginnings of a ‘common’ urban vocabulary that we attempt to enrich, study and
research at multiple levels, through an understanding of ownership structures, the political
consequences of “common” space transformations, everyday spatial common practices, the
spaces of resistance and much more.