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PROJECT / KUTAISI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, GEORGIA

IN THE GEORGIAN STYLE As part of a bid to reinvigourate the economic fortunes of Kutaisi in Georgia, UNStudio designed the new Kutaisi International Airport, with lighting design by Primo Exposures. After the cessation of heavy industry exports to Russia, the city of Kutaisi in central Georgia experienced a prolonged period of economic difficulty. In response, the government instigated a series of radical regeneration projects, including the relocation of the country’s seat of parliament to the city and the construction of a new international airport. The King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport was conceived as a way of opening up the region to the growing numbers of tourists who have recently been discovering this young state in the Caucasus. The government also wanted to reduce the cost of flights to the region, thereby not only making the city more accessible for tourists, but also for the large student population attending Kutaisi University. Architectural practice UNStudio was asked to design a new airport that could serve domestic and international flights for use by tourists, students, national politicians and international diplomats. Their remit covered the entire airport development, including a revision of the runway, the master plan for the surrounding landscape, the terminal building, offices, a meteorological station and the air traffic control tower. Regulations for the airport were strict and comprised of a mix of European and Georgian standards, including earthquake zoning 8 requirements. The design for the new airport incorporates both the country’s historic landscape and its architectural traditions. In Georgia, public buildings and private houses employ their entrance lobbies as showcases for their individual identities. In the design for the new

airport, UNStudio embraces this architectural concept in order to manifest Georgia’s young and dynamic democracy, along with its rapid development as a main crossing point in the region. Georgia is located on a crossroads of rich cultures, with a history of travellers passing through the Caucasus or arriving from the Black Sea. The airport is therefore designed to act as a foyer for the city; an open and welcoming architectural gesture. Specific attention was paid to the experience of the traveller. In many airports, the passengers’ pre-flight ‘conveyor belt’ experience pays little regard to the joy of travelling, to the social and experiential component of travel. With Kutaisi International Airport, the architects aimed to replace this sense of mechanisation by reintroducing of a sense of joy, as architect Ben van Berkel explains: “The design for the new airport embraces the traveller by embodying the circumstances of the site. Moments of both leaving and returning are celebrated by the large span, open spaces and high ceilings of the terminal structure - reflecting the ways in which such gestures were employed in the great railways stations of the past.” UNStudio worked with fellow Dutch practice Primo Exposures to create and implement a coherent lighting scheme for the site, one that would enhance this sense of place and add elements of wonder and delight to the journeys of those passing through the airport. Since 2005, Primo Exposures have worked on the lighting design of many major projects in Georgia, including the Presidential Palace, Ministry of Internal Affairs, TV Tower, Bridge of Peace and the

Pic: Nakaniamasak

Pic: Nakaniamasak

mondo*arc Jun/Jul 2014 - Issue 79  

mondo*arc is the leading international magazine in architectural lighting design. Targeted specifically at the lighting specification market...

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