In August, the streets of Tbilisi are quiet as people retreat to the cooler air of the Black Sea coast and mountains. Plastic containers dot the sidewalks to catch condensation from air conditioners for thirsty street dogs. And we wait for the first cooling rains that begin after the day of ფერისცვალება (transfiguration) in late August.

Tragedy in Shovi - Melting Glaciers in the Caucasus

Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in the recent landslide in the mountain resort of Shovi, Racha. Preliminary reports from experts suggest it was caused by melting glaciers:

“A rockfall occurred to the west of the Buba Glacier, which, when set in motion, collided with the glacier, causing the collapse of a certain part of it, which could have led to the release of subglacial waters. Afterward, the resulting flow moved with high speed along the valley.”1

The tragedy in Shovi has focused national attention on the risks of climate change in glacial-alpine zones in Georgia, the urgent need for re-assessment and re-zoning, preventing new development, and resettling residents living in hazard zones.

Beshumi and the Goderdzi Alpine Botanical Garden

Ana Petriashvili, Giorgi Nishnianidze, and Sarah Cowles visited The Goderdzi Alpine Botanical Garden in Adjara in July. Head botanist Temur Vasadze shared his work propagating rare alpine plants from seed. Located 1850-1900m above sea level, the garden features beech and fir forests, an alpine rockery, wetlands, and a lake. The road to Goderdzi from Akhaltsikhe is currently under construction, making a long, white-knuckle journey.

The Zarzma-Khulo road that crosses Goderdzi Pass. Our colleagues at IRD Engineering are supervising the road construction.

Rustavi Floodplain kickoff with Maggie Brand from Auburn!

Ruderal hosted Summer Research Associate Maggie Brand from Auburn University’s MLA program. Maggie teamed with Data Tsintsadze to map an action plan to bring attention to the Mktvari floodplain in the steel town of Rustavi, including many hard days clearing paths through the brush. Brand details the project progress in Napirze: Drawing A Floodplain.

Dialogue: Design for Justice and Democracy in Tbilisi

Ruderal hosted students from the Tbilisi Dialogs study abroad program, led by Sarah Kanouse and Nick Brown of Northeastern University. The program introduced students to “Georgia’s rich culture while showing how design, architecture, and art can foster inclusive and culturally-relevant practices of democracy.”

LILA Awards!

Our Betania Forest Garden won the LILA 2023 Special Mention in Private Gardens and the Editor’s Choice award. The Tbilisi Urban Forest was shortlisted in the Public Space category.

Congratulations to our VA[A]DS Graduates

Ruderal interns Nini Oragvelidze, Ani Sadunishvili, Marika Verulidze, and Eka Khomeriki completed their architecture thesis projects at VA[A]DS. Details on our social media channels.


Benjamin Hackenberger and Giorgi Nishnianidze traveled to Dessau, Germany to present the modeling approach developed in Damba Dynamics, Ruderal’s project for the Quarry Life Award 2022. Discussion at DLA 2023 questioned the role of data and digital tools in creating truly resilient and inclusive landscapes. Ruderal’s contribution focused on algorithmic modeling in projects with limited data access and weak regulation. Can digital tools stimulate change where a traditional approach to restoration is not feasible? According to Ruderal, yes! Read the full article in the Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture here.


The Marani Dome at Veli

Strange Pockets - “Thick Talk” delves into the site analysis and iterative processes employed in designing the Marani Thicket Garden at the Veli Campus in Bakurtsikhe, Georgia. Part One, "Strange Pockets," introduces the Veli Campus, the architect Fabrizio Carola and author of the domes complex at Veli, and how we transform these strange pockets of larger landscapes into gardens.

Radical Retrofit: Dobrich Part 1: Strategies for the Socialist-Modernist City - In this post, Peter Culley of Spatial Affairs Bureau describes how radical retrofit informed our joint submission to a competition in Dobrich, in northeastern Bulgaria.

Radical Retrofit: Dobrich Part 2 - Catch Patches - Benjamin Hackenberger describes how his team used Grasshopper to explore ways to adapt the urban drainage system to mimic a forest-like moisture condition, allowing a cooler and more biodiverse urban ecosystem to unfold.

TEXTEX - More work from "THE FLAT FILES"- the deep cuts from our archive. TEXTEX is an ecological armature constructed from commercially available environmental restoration materials techniques: geo-textiles, erosion control mats, coir logs, and live stakes of native Texas plants.

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