Master Thesis Project - Transformation of Soviet District: The Formation of Timebank Community

Transformation of Soviet District:
The Formation of Timebank Community
Master Thesis Project at Politecnico di Milano

Nikoloz Lekveishvili
Aleksandre Andghuladze


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ideology of the empire and its socio-economic projects started to diminish. People who were once promised better living conditions appeared in a new reality where living spaces became gray lifeless ruins, where melancholy was harsh and daily routines became monotonous. The shift from communism to the free market economy had put people in a chaotic situation where some tried to adapt to new conditions while others fell into total desperation. The time passed but the reality stayed the same, districts and its inhabitants were in a constant search of self-identity. After the dissolution of USSR, the local government failed to awaken the sleeping districts so the residents found themselves stuck in the Soviet dwellings.
The “Gldani” district is considered as a notable example of the Soviet architecture. It is often referred as a separate micro-town situated on the northern periphery of the city. The majority of its “Microrayons” were built without basic facilities and were converted into simple dormitory settlements. Inhabitants with better economic situation left the district while people in need of cheap housing settled there. Extreme living conditions and poor infrastructure decreased the quality of life in “Gldani” to a minimum level. 

The project “Transformation of a Soviet District” develops a prototype for the urban transformation of a typical Soviet district. It aims to find ways that can help sleeping district find its identity with minimal intervention. The thesis discusses several Case Studies and concentrates on the possibilities of forming a Timebank Community, which is envisaged as the most convenient prototype in "Gldani’s" transformation. The original model of TimeBank system uses time as a currency and enables the community members to exchange ‘services’ between them.

The form of the project is inspired' by Plato’s "Concept of Form" and Henry Moore’s sculpture "Helmet." Both helped to rediscover the meaning of the form and gave us ideas on how to use the form and its elements in the Architecture. The realization phase of the project is built on the prototype of Pakhuis de Zwijger platform, which is a cultural meeting place, multi-arts center and a gallery located in the former warehouse in Amsterdam. In “Gldani’s” case, we wanted to give a new life to three abandoned Soviet buildings by granting them specific functions. All three buildings are detached from each other and are distributed along the main core of the district.

We transformed the first building into a “Mediatheque” where physical infrastructure gives broad information about “Gldani” and functions as a gate to the district. The second building consists of a major exchange market, designed for Timebank Community, equipped with co-working spaces and administration while the third building serves as a Research Center with three research labs, cafeteria, and an amphitheater.
In order to perceive the project as a one working system, it is important to understand all three functions together. The buildings are connected with the cycling and pedestrian paths, which are allocated on the existing vehicular road, shrinking its original size and giving more space to the public interest. All interventions give in-between spaces a chance to use connection points between the buildings and reanimate the dying central axis of the district. The goal of the project is to turn the central axis into a dynamic and a vibrant spot. 

The mission of the interventions is to assist young people with insufficient resources, change things for the better through creation and innovation. The proposed prototype could also serve as an example of how a bottom-up transformation of the local communities and a small-scale intervention in the infrastructure can improve people’s lives in Soviet districts.

TV screening:
1st channel: C-Studio