On January 16, 2022, Zurab Kiria, took his own life at the Hotel “Kartli” where he used to live along with 130 other Georgian internally displaced families. His death reignites debate on the critical living conditions of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) across Georgia. Roughly 7% of the country’s population are registered as IDP1 and 44% of the IDP population are housed in state-owned collective centers which were not constructed for long term accommodations.2 The Hotel “Kartli” is one of many examples of a Soviet era sanatorium converted into temporary IDP housing.
Originally born out of the Soviet “right to rest”, sanatoriums were imprinted with temporal, geographical, and programmatic specificity that embodied the utopian values of the time.3 The architecture of these restorative areas were not only built to provide individual spaces for rest, but also communal spaces as social condensers. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many sanatoriums in Georgia fell into states of disrepair. Coupled with political unrest in the early 1990s, these vacant structures were repurposed into temporary housing for the quarter of a million Georgians fleeing the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.4
Responding to this social and spatial condition, we propose a speculative drawing set that superimposes Hotel “Kartli’s” past and present. Embodying a certain level of legitimacy stemming from its legal status, the typical construction document requires a level of architectural literacy to understand and decode. Through the reappropriation of tags, notes, and sheets we imagine the lives of two different types of residents: Soviet sanatorium visitors and current IDP families. Our intent is twofold: to register the labor and work put forth by Hotel “Kartli’s” current residents in converting the temporary to the permanent, and also to challenge the instructional nature of the architectural document.
The families living in Hotel “Kartli” have been promised relocation to new housing by the end of 2022,5 leaving the future of the building in question once vacant. The architectural drawing set, coupled with 3D digital files, are offered as a way to preserve the memory of Hotel “Kartli” in a virtual space, thereby making visible this state of permanent impermanence. Autobiographical in nature, the drawing set and 3D model will form the beginning of an archive on the Kartli Sanatorium and its residents.
1. Georgia: IDP’s Death Reopens Debate Over Housing,” Institute For War & Peace Reporting, https://iwpr.net/global-voices/georgia-idps-death-reopens-debate-over-housing.
2. UNHCR, “Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Georgia: A Gap Analysis,” July 2009.
3. Maryam Omidi, Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums (London: FUEL, 2017)
4. Georgia: IDP’s Death Reopens Debate Over Housing.”
5. “Locals Say IDP Man Jumped From Sanatorium Building in Protest Against Hazardous Housing,” Georgian Journal, https://georgianjournal.ge/society/37691-locals-say-idp-man-jumped-from-sanatorium-building-in-protest-against-hazardous-housing.html.