Nikozi Art House

Nikozi is a place where one can still hear the echo of the August War. The houses gathered around the 5th century-built church create a magical, pastoral environment, but it’s enough to spend some time with the villagers to find out that the memory of the place is full of terror.

Despite the occupation being a part of its daily routine, the village still has a quite dynamic cultural life in which all generations take part. This project not only plays a crucial role in intensifying the cultural life, but considers an architectural dialogue with the occupation as well.

In order to create this dialogue, our intention was to translate war as the most destructive event into construction - thus we decided to use rubble from bombed houses as a building material, combining it with the main construction element - rammed earth. Although earth architecture is still being rediscovered in Georgia, we still consider earth to be the most relevant language to speak with the issue of occupation.

Apart from the conceptual meaning, using rammed earth construction technique has two main positive aspects - environmental and social. In the age of anthropocene and climate change, earth is one of the most sustainable alternative building materials because of its significantly low carbon footprint. As for the social impact, building with rammed earth involves a direct participation of the local community, which encourages the sense of collective ownership.

Our proposal consists of two separate buildings - exposition/education and event spaces. This division ensures a clear visitor circulation and functional distribution. Different functions lead to the use of different structural solutions. As the building is located in a seismically active zone, rammed earth is not used as a structural element, but as an envelope around a steel structure and as the event hall requires a long span, it has a mixed structure of reinforced concrete and steel.

Our intention for the appearance of the building was to make it a continuation of the local village morphology. Thus the scale of the building is humble, trying not to be the dominant element, but on the other hand - quietly fitting into the historical context. Both buildings are covered with zinc roofs and their pitches contrast each other, which is a recurring motif in the village.