New hope in city vision

Wednesday 02 May 2012

Georgia presses ahead with Lazika proposal

The Georgian government not long ago announced the plans to build a city from scratch in marshlands by the Black Sea. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal and the details have been vague as no official documentation has been released. The proposal poses interesting questions about the practicalities and motives behind building entire cities from nothing.

The visualisations that have been released show a large urban metropolis full of high rise skyscrapers with impressive infrastructures aiding the city. The city has been proposed with the hope of it becoming the financial and economic hub of Georgia, with a large trading port connecting Georgia to important trade links through the Black Sea. On paper the scheme sounds like it could help in the development of Georgia’s international reputation and help in building Georgia a strong economy.

The idea for the city comes from China’s rapid expansion and the numerous cities that have sprung up in reaction to rising populations and rapid urbanisation in the country, however Georgia does not have these issues to contend with, and many have argued that the Lazika proposal is a fruitless endeavour.

Many issues have been raised regarding the location; the marshy wetlands of the eastern stretch of the Black Sea would not seem the ideal conditions to build vast infrastructure and high rise buildings on. The cost of the project has been estimated anywhere between $600m to $900m, of which the Georgian government is hoping will be funded mainly by foreign investors, despite this, critics are claiming that this money should be used to improve and develop Georgia’s existing cities that are showing a decline in population and increasing levels of poverty.

From an architectural viewpoint the notion of master planning on this scale is interesting; only with completely new cities is it possible to implement a regimented masterplan. Master planning is a question that has tried to be addressed extensively throughout the last century with many radical plans and movements simply failing to work in reality. It will be interesting to see whether the proposed city of Lazika will learn from the mistakes of the past and whether it will actually achieve what the Georgian government hopes it will, or whether it will an expensive adventure that fails drastically.

Matthew Goodwill

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