Gates to the New Georgia

The Sarpi Border Checkpoint building symbolizes the country’s transformation.

The post-Soviet political landscape experienced a major shift at the end of 2003. Eduard Shevarnadze, once the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs and first president of the independent Georgia, was forced to resign as a consequence of the Rose Revolution. The new president Mikhail Saakashvili laid the foundation for radical political and economical reforms, and chose architecture as the vessel for his message. 

Foreign architects were invited to Georgia to design public buildings that would reflect a new political vector. Glass-walled police stations hinted at the transparency of the country’s new legal system. Batumi’s entire city center was reimagined as a country landmark. One of the most striking and lesser known examples of such novel architecture, however, is a checkpoint at the small settlement of Sarpi – situated on the Georgia-Turkey border on the Black Sea coast.

“During the 1990s the place was notorious for criminal activity and illegal traffic,” says photographer Alexey Narodizkiy, who ventured to Georgia in the early 2010s to document this new architectural phenomenon. “The border checkpoint building was designed by Jurgen Mayer bureau, and was meant to become a symbol of the new Georgia – a modern country with little corruption, open to international cooperation with European states.”

According to Alexey, photography is an integral part of the architectural practice: “Buildings get destroyed and redesigned, while their construction relies on the colossal effort of many people. I believe that architectural photography is the final stage of this process. When I shoot these buildings, I always enter into a dialogue with the architect and try to find the best way to represent his ideas through my pictures.”