The hotel and casino is a conversion of an existing 20-storey high-rise building from the 1960s as a mixed-use facility with 34,170 m² of gross floor area on a land parcel of 10,840 m². The Hotel Iveria accommodates 249 rooms, including 44 business class rooms, 15 suites and one executive suite, as well as an Italian restaurant called Filini, the Surface Restaurant and Lounge Bar, a conference centre with ten fully-equipped meeting rooms and a sub-dividable ballroom with a maximum capacity of 450 persons. A bank office and travel agency complete the programme of spaces.
The project’s goal was to transform an urban landmark building of the so-called international style by anchoring it in the local environment of the city centre and reconnecting it to the world of today. In many former communist countries, architectural icons from “socialist” times are being transformed and countries are seeking to express their own identity with a renewed sense of confidence. The project is a bold, optimistic statement demonstrating Georgia’s and Tbilisi’s position as a modern city while respecting the history of Georgia, including its more recent past – a project that embodies the principles of GRAFT!
The design respects the basic form and placement of the typical modernist high-rise while introducing strong interventions that heighten its qualities: the ground and first floors have been gutted and given a new base that relates the lobby and restaurant to its surroundings, while the top two storeys have been transformed into spa and wellness facilities with a spectacular view over the city and to the Caucasus Mountains beyond. The exterior has been re-clad with a sleek skin of rhythmic curtain-wall glazing, while the interiors refer to local traditions such as the wooden balconies of Tbilisi (hotel rooms), the local sulphur bathing culture (spa) or the wood relief-work, carpeting and niches in the restaurants and bars. Transformed, abstracted images of grapes are used as a decorative device throughout the project.
Georgia as a country at the intersection of cultures and trade routes is rediscovering its lots role as an international hub and a place for exchange between the East and West. The prominent project was an opportunity to help reclaim past traditions and participate in their transformation and definition, linking the global with the local in a two-way process.