Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Wight, Irena (2019). Reconfiguring the Republic Dream: New Equitable Housing Types in Post-Socialist Tbilisi (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Post-socialist Tbilisi is a city with a rich yet rapidly disappearing built heritage. The city’s long and layered histories as well as its location at the crossroads between Asia and Europe have shaped its urban and architectural forms to reflect its multicultural and cosmopolitan character. Traditional building types demonstrate the confluence of cultures and the inhabitants’ open social ideals, as gradients of privacy blend between private, public, and semiprivate. The Art Nouveau courtyard house embodies these values as its internal composition reveals that the shift toward Art Nouveau accompanied a broader redesign of domestic space at this moment. Further, these buildings were constructed when Georgia was determining its own cultural and national identity during the last years of the Russian Empire and before the country’s short-lived independence (1918-1921). They, therefore, offer insights and models for an architectural identity in present-day independent Georgia. This thesis aims to demonstrate how a deep understanding of building history can aid in introducing contemporary design into post-socialist (and post-imperialist) cities with a rich, yet quickly deteriorating, historic urban fabric, preserving their built heritage and cultural identities, and adding fundamental social needs. It intends to challenge the linear trajectory of uncontrolled new development in Tbilisi by analyzing and reinterpreting the spatial composition of the Art Nouveau courtyard house to provide an architectural opportunity for self-determination by Tbilisi residents.


Art Nouveau, Tbilisi, Post-Socialist City, Adaptive Reuse, Built Heritage



Date Posted: 03 June 2019