Portfolio Of Maradia Tsaava
I dedicated a radio story to my theatre as well. "The Decameron" is a course work of the first alumni of the Theatre Arts Program.
This experimental performance caused different impressions in the audience.These impressions are illustrated in the story.
The city is a process. Citizens create this process by their experience, as architect and urban developer Lado Vardosanidze says. All have right to the city “to change and reinvent it after their heart’s desire” says professor of anthropology and geography David Harvey.
Since 2016 city planners have been working on a Tbilisi Master Plan 2030 – the major document of the city planning strategies until 2030.
Master plan is not a rule, a law or a map to guide you. It is a document, which analyses the city in a very broad scale and defines how the city should develop. The master plan does not tell you where to cross the road or where to buy a house; it gives the city the concept where to direct the urbanization process, where to preserve the city; where to grow, what to transform and why.
Overall, this plan is not the answer to the question what; but it is a respond to the question how and it’s merely based on the experiences and visions of dozens of urban developers. No research was conducted to find out real needs, concerns and wishes of the local residents. Though city planners are pretty sure general plan responds to the problems citizens face every day.
The plan combines the changes, which cannot be recognized in one or two years’ time. Moreover, the result of the plan can only become visible in case the government performs under its guidance. Though this document has no legal power; the City Hall can reject the recommendations from the document and use different methods of the city expansion. Even though the document costs the city 2 million 8 thousand GEL.
This money is delivered to the group of about 90 experts (consisting of the company “The City Institute Georgia”, the one which won the competition, other 8 companies and independent experts) to deliver the city a guideline of development. 13 different companies took part in the competition and only “The City Institute Georgia” became the winner.
This vision targets 3 major problems in Tbilisi: maintaining the residential outlines of the city, rearranging public transport networks and expanding green space. So, master plan 2030 aims at turning Tbilisi into a compact, well-connected, green city.
Compact, is a term for a city, which does not urge for expanding its residential outlines anymore. As architect and the coordinator of the master plan Giorgi Abashidze says the research which they have conducted showed that existing residential territories are enough for the city population and Tbilisi should assimilate the territories inside the residential outlines by organizing the functions of the zones. This means to redevelop abandoned and idled territories and create polycentric blocks. Polycentric blocks include various functional zones. This means that residents have the possibility to live, work and rest in the area around them. Citizens do not have to move kilometers away from their residential blocks to go to e.g. movies or rest in parks.
To convert visions into practice, the City Hall has to take all recommendations into account. All permissions for new constructions must be directed by the orders of the master plan.
Well-connected city establishes special hierarchy for the public transport. As the city planner Sopo Begashvili says, all different vehicles of public transport move in the same direction today, competing to each other and creating chaos. In the hierarchy created by the city planners, subway holds the first place, moving across the main line of the city; then tram is considered on the second place as an auxiliary transport to the subway, moving on the surface of the ground and covering more extensive areas of Tbilisi; tram is followed by bus, which moves on the Avenues and the last in the hierarchy is “Marshutka”, reaching all the edges of the city. In this hierarchy all different types of vehicles have their own direction and the public transport network is better arranged.
Green city means to discover and find all possible areas, which can be used as recreational zones. By the data received from the City Hall, these days Tbilisi counts 59 parks, though these 59 addresses include the divisors of the Avenues covered with grass and the flowerbeds. Different cities have different standards for the special amount of the green space per one resident, but by the World Health Organization standard, 15 square meters per person is the obligatory minimum. As Giorgi Abashidze, the coordinator of the master plan says, no exact data exists about the quantity of green space in Tbilisi these days, but the group of the master plan have themselves counted it very broadly, and discovered that only 2 to 5 square meters of green space come for one person in Tbilisi.
City planners decided to exceed 2-5 to 10 with the concept of the Green City. The main hero in transforming Tbilisi into green city is river Mtkvari, dividing the city into two different parts. “River Mtkvari, crossing the whole city, is playing a huge role in the city life, but these days it is not assimilated for its maximum.” – says Sopo Begashvili, city planner. The group recommends using this river and most of its small tributaries as the space for parks, connected to the water.
In their plan, the biggest point is indicated towards the groves of Dighomi, laying next to the river and occupying 150 hectares of free space. Giorgi Lemonjava, environmental coordinator of the master plan says that this territory can be easily transmitted into a huge park, located in the city centre and near the water. The same idea goes for small different rivers (about 50 ones), which unite river Mtkvari. These places in different blocks can create small different parks throughout the whole city.
Tbilisi Master Plan 2030 - Conceptual Project of Development of River Mtkvari
The human society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together” - Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the green city movement.
One of the ideas connected to the “Green City” is not officially affirmed in the city plan yet. The idea recommends moving an open-market Eliava from the city centre and using this territory for recreational purposes. This place is also on the river bank and this park would also have the actual connection to the water. City planners appointed two different locations for the market: on Moscow Avenue and in Temka block.
This idea of transferring the market to two different locations is adequate for urban developer Zurab Bakradze. “The merchants will face the loss, of course, but the City Hall can give them compensations, because it is obvious that the park is better idea for this place, rather than the market.”
Along with the agreement, Zurab Bakradze identifies another perspective: “The market is surrounded by the main line of the road, so the park will also be crosses by this line? If so, than the park will lose its value. The master plan should provide taking this main line into the tunnel. Then, the park would connect straight to the water.” The coordinator of the group, Giorgi Abashidze says this idea was neglected and transferred into another one: making the main line accessible for only motor-cars.
Architect and Urban developer Nano Zazanishvili agrees that Tbilisi lacks the recreational and green zones for its maximum, but she suspects, what will be the price.
“If this decision ruins the lives of the citizens, then what is the purpose? We have to analyze what changes the merchants may face considering the salaries, finances and working environment. I think this idea is very pure and needs deeper analysis.”
In the City Hall, Nika Karsimashvili one of the main specialists from the Municipal Department of Environment and Landscaping admits that the lack of green space is easily recognizable in Tbilisi, but as he says, this issue holds one of the first places in the City Hall priorities this year.
“The solution to this problem is the increase of the budget. To make the situation better, we need more financial and human resources.”
Urban developer Zurab Bakradze does not share this opinion. He believes that the one and only reason of the green space decrease is the government’s policy. “Money comes from the constructions. The City Hall is waiting for developers, to cut the trees down and permit the construction process. This is why I’m quite pessimistic towards the master plan. The group has the idea of increasing the recreational territories, but who will let this happen? I think, like all previous master plans, this one will also exist formally. Actually, the City Hall will invent legislation, which will make all the prohibitions accessible.”
Bakradze has other reasons for disappointment as well. He considers the master plan as the most important document for the city, which should be definitely based on the wishes and ideas of the citizens.
Master plan of Tbilisi 2030 does not rely to any research about the citizen’s attitudes, while as David Harvey, anthropology and geography professor writes “the idea of the right to the city does not arise primarily out of various intellectual fascinations and fads. It primarily rises up from the streets, out from the neighborhoods, as a cry for help and sustenance by oppressed peoples in desperate times.”
Every citizen living in the city has the right to take part in any process happening around. The citizens have to decide, where they want to have parks, where they want to shop and where they prefer to trade. As David Harvey claims, “the freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”