What Do We Have in Common

17 Oct - 8 Nov 2020
Tbilisi Architecture Biennial, Tbilisi, GE
Virtual space

The second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial will be carried out in a digital space where the website will become the main platform that will incorporate various media and diverse formats of events. The shift of the Biennial to an online mode will ensure a wider outreach and participation on a global scale. It will become a transcontinental event and activate different places worldwide spilling its activities beyond the original location in Tbilisi.

About the topic

The second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial, which is conceived under the name “What Do We Have in Common'' proposes to take a closer look at the notion of commonness in our increasingly individualized and fragmented societies. The definition of togetherness is something that we would like to investigate and translate into our urban fabric. After the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union, the world map was added several barely recognized countries. These newly born “post-socialist” states had to undergo an inevitable but painful transformation from planned to a 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, the planned urban spaces turned into more fragmented and divided ones. The entire process of urban and socio-economic transition seemed to forget the feeling of common space and collectivity. Spaces of common inhabitation and collective use have become mostly infrastructural turning into the 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. 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 activist right-to-the-city movements remind us that commons must be reclaimed as finite resources that need to be sustained, nurtured and managed by communities and professionals.

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 an 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 through examining the significance of the transformation process and the consequences it has had on common spaces. The staircases, 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 in different levels through the understanding of ownership structures, following the political consequences of “common” space transformations, everyday spatial common practices, the spaces of resistance and much more.

Meanwhile - COVID 19

While working on the second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial by questioning, “what do we have in common?” to our surprise answers were found much sooner. With the sudden shifts in our lives that happened due to the ongoing pandemic, it became clear that there are many more things we actually have in common. On the other hand, it is important to note that the pandemic exposes and intensifies existing inequalities in the world.