In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Rome–based architecture firm Fuksas, led by Massimiliano Fuksas and his wife and Doriana, have unveiled their second building: a music theater and exhibition hall along the Mtkvari river that flows through the city.
Located in Rhike Park, the building’s two programs—theater and exhibition space—are divided into to corresponding twin glass and steel tubular volumes. Standing next to an old retaining wall, the volumes appear to protrude out from the roadside toward the waterfront.
Holding 566 seats, the Musical Theatre Hall sits to the North of the site and houses the foyer and other back-of-house facilities. Supported from the ground at the end, the volume acts, in Fuksas’ words, as a “periscope” to the river and city, with views framed toward the old town of Tbilisi. The Exhibition Hall, unlike its counterpart, opens up at its end and features stairs leading up to the entrance.
Fuksas’s first project, also in Tbilisi, in Georgia came back in 2012. The Public Service Hall—just a stones throw away—uses a similar curvaceous, petal-like roof system that hangs over the predominantly glass facades.
“It is important for every country to combine its great cultural tradition with contemporary architecture to create part of the country’s history of the future,” said Massimiliano Fuksas in 2015. “Tbilisi has a relevant historic legacy, which unfortunately has been left without any maintenance for the last 15 years. In this context, the plans to regenerate the city not only include the rehabilitation of the landmark of Tbilisi’s Old Town, but mostly to incorporate the requirements of a modern functional city.”
According to Joshua Levine of the New York Times, the “grandiose” architecture currently being erected is intended to reflect the “virtues of Georgia’s kinder, gentler bureaucracy.” However, it’s not all good news for some Georgians. As Levine reports in 2013, preservationists argue that the government is favoring “slapdash commercialism” instead of paying respect to Tbilisi’s history. The Times article quotes Gio Sumbadze, a resident artists, as calling it “facadism.”
“I think the new buildings would be marvelous, but maybe someplace far away, like in the suburbs,” said Nino Sukhishvili, a local.