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Call for proposals to Tbilisi Common Architecture Biennial 2020: “What Do We Have In Common“

Georgia Architecture News - Jul 03, 2020 - 16:30   5006 views

Call for proposals to Tbilisi Common Architecture Biennial 2020: “What Do We Have In Common“

Tbilisi Architecture Biennial will accept proposals for its International Open Call from June 22 through July 31, 2020. The winning proposals will be realized during the event in October/November 2020 digitally and physically in selected locations in Tbilisi and around the world. 

The notion of "commons" unites open resources of any kind: natural, cultural, spatial, material and immaterial - of which ownership and access is shared. These common resources need to be maintained, as do the collection of practices that govern and preserve them. Yet Georgia‘s rapid shift to a neoliberal political system in the 1990s resulted in a new understanding of these commons - resources that are open for commodification and individualization. As finite resources, these commons need to be sustained, nurtured and managed by communities and professionals. Architects, urbanists and state institutions have a fundamental role to play in the reclamation of the commons - no more so than in Tbilisi. 

The second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial, which is conceived under the name What Do We Have in Common proposes to take a closer look at the notion of commonness in our increasingly individualized and fragmented societies. After the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union, several barely recognized countries were added to the world map. These newly born “post-socialist” states had to undergo an inevitable but painful transformation from planned to market economy – economic transition that has been expressed in both the city's cultural norms and its urban fabric. A “collectively” organized society became increasingly individualized, the planned urban spaces turned into more fragmented and divided ones. Entire process of urban and socio-economic transition seemed to forget the feeling of common space and collectivity. Spaces of common inhabitation and collective use have become predominantly infrastructural, turning into spaces of transition and uninterrupted functionality.

In our local reality the post-soviet spatial, political and social transformation has been accompanied by many new understandings and an urban vocabulary. The understanding of common space has developed into a very complex issue. By questioning the notion of the “common” we would like to address several layers of urban space in Tbilisi, and explore the internal and external, the material and imaginary, through examining the significance of the transformation processes and the consequences it has had on common space. The staircases, neighborhood patios, thresholds, roofs of the residential blocks, public parks and squares, rarely or unused public/private buildings, shared self-governed open spaces – they all belong to the beginnings of a “common” urban vocabulary that we attempt to enrich, study and research, by investigating ownership structures, “common” space transformations, everyday spatial common practices, the spaces of resistance and much more.

When we started working on our second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial we asked the question ‘what do we have in common’, and to our surprise found an answer much sooner than we anticipated. With the sudden shifts in our lives resulting from the ongoing pandemic, it has become clear that ‘we are in all this together’ – nobody is spared from the effects of the virus and this has drawn us closer. Dramatic alterations to our cities and our ability to use them collectively has made clear what we really have in common, while also exposing and intensifying existing inequalities and injustices.

The impact of COVID-19 raises new questions about the role of common spaces. What is the effect of restrictions related to public spaces on society? How can we uphold a sense of community that goes beyond borders in the midst of growing nationalism? In times of closing borders, increasingly restrictive migration policies and fragile states, it is essential to examine practices of exclusion and their consequences. This includes analyzing how the new reality of a divided continent manifests itself in public spaces.

TAB is planning to turn newly emerged restrictions into opportunities and realize the Biennial almost exclusively on a virtual platform where geographic limitations become irrelevant. The reinvented Biennial aims at becoming a voice, which can be spread even further in order to reach out to more people globally. This way the event will transform itself into a “Common Architecture Biennial”, emerging from Tbilisi but attempting to propagate the concept of “togetherness” far beyond the borders of Tbilisi and Georgia.

This expanded platform will be utilized to highlight marginal perspectives on shared spaces that are frequently overlooked in professional contexts, and open virtual windows for imaginative ways for assisting each other.

Location: Virtual space

The second edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial will be carried out in a digital space where the website will become the main platform of the event. It will incorporate various media in order to support diverse formats of events. Shifting the Biennial online will ensure a wider outreach and participation on a global scale. It will become a transcontinental event, activating different places worldwide and spilling its activities beyond Tbilisi. In parallel to being able to avoid the challenges imposed by the pandemic, the digital platform will open up many more possibilities and introduce new spaces for creativity that can implement ideas in new ways.

The Biennial as a platform is conceived as a space, which will bring together all emerging works, discussions and ideas under one roof. The TAB 2020 website will be formed by a digital building prototype, which will be slowly filled with the activities realized during the TAB 2020 and evolve into a common symbolic structure. The proposed ideas can be realized anywhere in the world, as long as they can be digitally presented through the TAB 2020 platform. The works will be available for “visiting” on the platform through live streaming during the period of biennial and later archived and made accessible on the website. Each category of activities/works will take place on a separate floor.

Who can apply: All interested architects, artists, writers, scholars, urbanists, creative individuals regardless of location, age or past experience are invited to submit a proposal. The application process is free of charge.

Submission process

We accept proposals in four different categories:

  1. Physical projects (works/research in any physical format)
  2. Digital projects (works/research in any digital media format)
  3. Educational activity / Workshop (digital or physical)
  4. Contributions to publication.

Applications must be submitted in English or Georgian. All received proposals will be rated by an international jury anonymously, based on the quality of the idea and its direct reference to the main concept of TAB 2020. Selected projects will have an opportunity to be realized in a digital or physical format with no limit to geographic locations. All projects must have a clear relation to the theme of the Biennial What Do We Have In Common.

Detailed description of terms of application

Physical Project: Applicants are free to suggest any format of their own preference with no geographic restrictions. However, it is mandatory that the produced works have to be realized physically and should have capacity of being linked to and presented through the website of the Biennial.

Requested documents:

  1. Short description of the project idea (max. 500 words)
  2. Sketch/photo/render of the work and its technical description including information on dimensions, color, orientation, working material, physical location, etc. (pdf or jpeg format)
  3. Portfolio (optional) and CV of the applicant
  4. Budget of the project (excel file, the budget should be indicated in Euro).

Four selected participants will be awarded a maximum amount of 3,000 Euros (incl. all taxes) each for covering production costs as well as artistic fees. One additional project will be funded with a maximum of 2,000 Euros (incl. all taxes) for covering production costs and artists’ fees. In case the budget exceeds the amount designated by the Biennial, the applicants are welcome to provide additional funding from the other sources.

Digital Project: Applicants are free to suggest any format of their own preference, which can be realized in digital media. It is mandatory that the images of work should have the capacity of being linked to and presented through the website of the Biennial.

Requested documents:

  1. Short description of the project idea (max. 500 words)
  2. Sketch/photo/render of the work and its technical description including information on dimensions, color, orientation, working material etc. (pdf or jpeg format)
  3. Portfolio (optional) and CV of the applicant
  4. Detailed budget of the project (excel file, budget should be indicated in Euro).

Five selected participants will be awarded a maximum amount of 1,000 Euros (incl. all taxes) each for covering production costs as well as artistic fees. In case the budget exceeds the amount designated by the Biennial, the applicants are welcome to provide additional funding from the other sources.

Educational Activity/Workshop: There will be two workshops offered in the frames of TAB 2020. Their duration may vary depending on the situation regarding COVID-19 and the ability to conduct them as physical or digital events with a duration between five days (full time, physical space) and two weeks (half-day online events).

Those interested in the facilitation of the workshops are welcome to submit the following documents:

  1. CV and portfolio of the applicant
  2. Description of the concept including topic and components of the workshop (max. 500 words).

Selected facilitators will be offered honorarium in an amount of 2,000 Euros (incl. all taxes). All other costs related to travel and accommodation (in case it is possible), rental of premises and workshop materials will be covered by the Biennial.

Note: This open call is for the selection of facilitators and themes of the workshops only. Separate open calls for the selection of participants will be announced at a later date.

Contributions to publication: Tbilisi Architecture Biennial plans to build on its previous experience and this time encourages the inclusion of articles/texts of even more diverse groups in its publication. Papers will be selected through the open call which will allow researchers, young professionals, scholars, urbanists, artists and other interested stakeholders from a wide range of disciplines to submit abstracts that focus on the main topic of the Biennial What Do We Have in Common.

Applicants should submit abstracts of up to 500 words along with a motivation letter (max. 300 words) and a short bio of the author (max. 250 words). All submissions will be subject to review by an invited jury. Language of submission is English or Georgian, format: pdf file.

Eight selected candidates will be awarded a lump sum of 600 Euros. This sum includes all applicable taxes. All selected papers will be included in the publication of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial 2020. Submitted papers/texts should not already have been published earlier in any academic or relative publications.

Selection process

Proposals will be evaluated by an international interdisciplinary jury, which will consist of the representatives of the partner organizations of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial MetaLab (Ukraine), C/O NOW (Germany), Meleem Skopje (North Macedonia) and invited experts. The applications will be kept anonymous and randomized to make sure each submission receives the same fair consideration.

In each of the categories of physical project, digital project and contribution to publication one grant will be awarded to a Ukrainian applicant.

The contest will be held in two steps. During the first step the jury will review all applications to select a short-list of the best proposals. Representatives of the shortlisted projects will then be invited to interviews which will be conducted on August 12-14, 2020. The jury will evaluate the projects based on the relevance of the concept with the main topic of the Biennial, their impact, feasibility, the urgency of the topic and conformity with the suggested terms of application and budget. The jury reserves the right not to reveal a winner if none of submitted applications fulfill the requirements of the contest.

Results: Final decision on the outcomes of the open call will be announced on August 17, 2020.


Project participants will retain all rights to their ideas and designs. The Biennial retains the right to create printed and digital materials including the works/research created by artists, crediting the artists. In the case selected project will have a potential for commercial sale, contract with the winner will include a specific paragraph of additional agreement on the commission fees.

Original applications and supporting materials (description, budget, sketches/photos/renders) will be kept in the archive of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial and not be transferred to third parties.

Applications and all related questions should be directed to the following e-mail: [email protected]. Please indicate in the subject line the title of the category you are applying for. Applicants will receive confirmation of receipt of submitted documents within 24 hours. In case, confirmation is not received please, resubmit the application package once again.

Application deadline: July 31, 2020 23:59 CET

Important dates

Submissions open: 22 June 2020 

Submissions close: 31 July 2020 

Selections announced: 17 August 2020

Download the document to read details here.

Top image courtesy of Tbilisi Architecture Biennial 

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