Georgia: Tbilisi

In the mid-1990s, approximately 300m² of accommodation in the Metechi Palace Hotel/Office complex, one of the few modern developments available at the time, was leased and fitted out for the embassy offices. Some years later [?when], better offices were taken in a new block in Freedom Square (and the Dutch embassy moved straightaway into the vacated Metechi Palace space). The ambassador’s residence was leased and fitted out at 9 Metechi Street, but proved unsatisfactory and a further move occurred soon afterwards.

Such unsatisfactory and changing accommodation circumstances could not be allowed to continue and, as funds became slightly more available in the middle of the 2000s, the FCO bought a site, at 51 Krtsanisi Street, and embarked on the design and construction of a combined office and residence development. Combining these two functions, which are always very different in scale, presentation and operation, was a considerable architectural challenge. The architects, selected through a competitive interview procedure, were Wilford Schupp Architects gmbh: Michael Wilford had designed the new Berlin Embassy in the 1990s but, by the time of Tbilisi, Manuel Schupp in their Stuttgart office was sharing the lead. Stephen Whittle was the FCO’s project sponsor. The building was completed in 2010 and was officially opened in March 2011.

The rectangular site, of about a hectare, lies on the slope of the Krtsanisi Hills, with wide views of the Kura Valley. The design is a strip of building stepping up the centre of the site in four levels: from the office entrance at the bottom, then an atrium and offices levels, to the entrance level of the two-storey residence at the top (and the rear) of the site. The residence looks eastwards over the centre of the city. The three office levels are all clad and floored in the local basalt stone: the residence, in distinct contrast, is enveloped by a golden-hued aluminium perforated screen. The balance between the offices and the residence is thus most effectively achieved.

[Is/was this (or part of it) Tbilisi residence?]

Residence on the left, and offices below and to the right, 2010.

Residence frontage at top of site, 2010.

Office atrium, with rear of residence visible through skylight, 2010.