Architects Tamaz Tevzadze, Giga Batiashvili – „Tbilqalaqproeqkti“, IV studio
Sculptor Teimuraz Gigauri
Function Metro station
Condition partly modificated
Location Queen Ketevan Avenue 54, Tbilisi
In November 1967, the second group of the first Didube-Samgori (today Akhmeteli-Varketili) line of the Tbilisi Metro was opened – “Lenin Square” (Freedom Square), “26 Komisari” (Avlabari) and “300 Aragveli”. At that time, the stations “Didube”, “Electrodepo”, “Octomberi” (Nadzaladevi), “Sadguris Moedani”, “Marjanishvili“, “Rustaveli” were already in operation (all since 1966).
In 1951 it was decided to build a metro in Tbilisi. Although the city did not yet have a million inhabitants, which was a necessary condition for a subway construction permit. The construction was associated with difficult engineering problems due to the terrain and geological conditions. The First Line had tp cross the river Mtkvari valley twice and seven low-lying stations were to be built under the city (a station with a depth of more than 20 meters is considered low-lying. For example, the depth of the „Rustaveli“ station is 60 meters). The planning and, in some cases already started construction work, was halted for lack of funds and resumed only in the 1960s, which had a direct impact on the architecture of the Tbilisi Metro.
As had been common in Soviet cities since the 1930s, the metro served not only to transport passengers from one place to another. Rather, the Soviet metro, especially the design of its underground vestibules, was used as a propaganda tool of the socialist order. According to the original plan, the metro in Tbilisi should have been designed as pompously as those in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. However, due to the break in planning and construction, the new stations of the Tbilisi Metro were designed in the era of Modernism, when the state no longer required the construction of “underground palaces.” Two modernist pavilions built in 1967 according to the designs of Tamaz Tevzadze – the metro stations “300 Aragveli” and “Octomberi”” (today “Nadzaladevi”, together with Ramaz Kiknadze) – can be considered the best examples of Georgian modernism.
The architecture of the freestanding pavilion of “300 Aragveli” is minimalist. The building stands on a rectangular landscaped plot. Near the main entrance was a small pool, and on the other side – an open ice cream cafe. Unfortunately, in recent years, a new restaurant building was erected in the place of the pool, obscuring the main facade of the subway station and completely thwarting the concept of the master plan.
Much of the interior consists of a two-light vestibule, a glazed space on the south and east sides from which escalators descend to the underground platform. The flat roof rests on strong columns. On the west and north sides are technical and administrative offices on two floors. The requirements for the decor have been simplified, although expensive marble and granite were used for the cladding. The pylons and columns are covered with expensive marble and the floors with granite.
In many cases, the above-ground and underground spaces of the metro station were designed by different architects. Giga Batiashvili designed the lower vestibule of “300 Aragveli”.
Decorative elements created by Georgian artists still decorate the Tbilisi Metro, although in small numbers. Sculptor Teimuraz (Tengiz) Gigauri, together with Givi Gigauri, created the remarkable carved copper relief of 300 Aragveli warriors.
Tamaz Tevzadze’s archive contains photos showing the first version of the project – a model and a sketch of a circular building. The names of the architects are noted there – Gera Ajiashvili and Tamaz Tevzadze.
In the same archive there is a sketch of the interior of the competition project designed by Tevzadze in 1959 for the metro station “Octomberi”. It was not implemented there, but it is almost identical to the vestibule of “300 Aragveli”. (ntch)