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Georgia’s New History in 30-Year Biography (Part II)

The stories that ARCI company has passed through reflect the 30-year history of Georgia. These stories are  full of admiration, bravery, doubts, fear, risks, devotion, misery, feeling of despair  and achievements – ARCI has turned 30.

Architect Gia Abuladze, one of the first founders of the company, talks about the first steps taken by ARCI company.

The environment was changing rapidly. Kako Bakradze turns up, curses communists and nobody cares to arrest. Nodar Natadze is in the street, sometimes on the tribune. A lot of slogans and calls are heard. It’s 1988 yet.

Once Soso Tsiskarishvili tells me: Rustaveli society is being created and is given a fine building, but is it needs reconstruction, would you interested in being charge? It was Rustaveli N27, the former building of the Cadets block. There was a “communal” inside, one room for one family, a common toilet, kitchens in the corridor. It’s a terrible situation.

”Of course we will take care of it,”-I said. This conversation with Soso came to the point that the architectural-designer cooperative the Rustaveli community ”Mziuri” was created. We chose this name because our group had previously worked on Mziuri and considered proud.

From the very beginning we knew that this was a temporary name, but we wanted to show our identity, history, skills and taste.

It was 7 of us, I was the head. Some of us were hopeful, some not, time to time we would hesitate, sometimes we would stay optimistic. We know that once Rustaveli society is established, we should do the reconstruction project of the building. We attended the Rustaveli Society meetings, where we met a lot of interesting and talented people.

In short, we were already in the Rustaveli community and the Rustaveli community formed “Ivertbank”. Back then, it took 500 USD to establish a bank. It was the first commercial bank, along with the Rustaveli Avenue, with the patronage of the Rustaveli community. Great response was followed.

Then I asked if we could have a room to work there too. They Gave us room on the opera side, but we had to enter from another building and go to our “office” through utility apartment’s hall. We had a large, 60 sq.m. Room, six meters ceiling, four meters high door, there was no furniture.

We started serious work on the reconstruction project. Then they asked how much would it be, it seems a simple and natural question but turned out a challenge for us. Others were solving these issues in “Giprogor”, and here it became our responsibility. We agreed Andro Kotetishvili, so called Kotika would handle finances, we did not have much idea in this regard, even more we were worried about money. Kotika asked if we wanted to purchase something. W said, we have no tables, or chairs. We calculated expenses for the furniture and salaries. Kotika went to the bank to bring our payment. It was a great stress, I though, here they’ll come, kick us out, say: ”film is over, go get back to normal lives!”

That was my attitude. Kotika came with a salary of 300-300 Rubles. Finally, my salary in “Giprogor” was 180 rubles. He also gave money for tables. We went to the exhibition, we bought the boards freely. Here’s a new life. We were overcoming our fear.

In short, we set up a work-space. At the first stage it was us Gaga Kiknadze, Mika Kruashvili, Levan Mushkudiani and I. Irakli Rostomashvili was in the army and joined us later.

When the places and tables were distributed, I gave the best place to Irakli, but as expected, he came and declared. ”Mine is the worst”-he said and rearranged everything.

“Arci” from 1989 – on February 18th, the company is running 30 years. The 30-year history of “Arci” is related to the series of articles. We have a lot of interesting stages.