Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sensitivity and Heroic Scale

Georgy Chakhava’s 1975 Roads Ministry building, a monumental grid of interlocking concrete forms rising on a steep wooded site in Tbilisi, Georgia is an architectural gem. The project’s genesis might prompt most architects, so often at the mercy of clients’ fantasies, to swoon with envy. Mr. Chakhava was not only an architect but also the minister of highway construction. As such, he was not just his own client; he could also hand-pick the project’s site.

Yet the ministry building’s design also debunks many of the standard clichés we hold about late Soviet architecture. Rising on an incline between two highways, the building’s heavy cantilevered forms reflect the Soviet-era penchant for heroic scale. Yet they also relate sensitively to their context, celebrating the natural landscape that flows directly underneath the building

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