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HELLO!

I’m Alper Kokcu. Join my journey where I am exploring cultures and ideas via the connection of art, nature and architecture.

Mc Donald's in Batumi

Mc Donald's in Batumi

On my last video we discussed about icons and memorials. Today we will discuss this on buildings. On one particular building really. I will bring you to Georgia and yes, my American fellas, the country, not the state and my Georgian friends: Gamarjoba! (Hello in Georgian)

Two months ago, me and my wife Tanya planned a trip to Georgia. We started this tip from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, drove east till Georgian border, traveled this beautiful Caucasian country almost two weeks and came back home through Black Sea route. With couple of detours we made 4000 km in total and let me translate this for you my American friends: It is almost 25 hundred miles.

In another words: It is like driving from New York to Las Vegas, almost till west coast.

Ok enough with driving and let me bring you to Georgian seaport city Batumi. Some says that Batumi is Las Vegas of the Black Sea. I guess, emulating is a default feature of being human. Anyways for us, after visiting couple of other Georgian cities, Batumi was the most decent one, in terms of pedestrian friendly roads, cleaner streets and comparably more respectful traffic flow.

I believe this is because the city is quite touristic. All over the city there are information boards, supported by four languages: Georgian, Russian, English and Turkish.

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Despite the recent touristic interactions of the city, Batumi was and still is an important sea port. The railway from Baku, built in the late 19th century, helped a lot on the development while bringing oil production to the port. Soon later Batumi became a popular resort along the citizens of the Russian Empire.

However, in Soviet time the popularity dropped down dramatically and only less than two decades ago government started to make renovations. As a result of this transformation, the city became, let’s say, shiny!

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That shiny outlook is everywhere especially on high-rise towers and is even repeating on renovated 19th century buildings. The main touristic income ‘gambling’ is also helping on this sparkling view. The city has a lot of casinos, while there are none in Turkey since gambling is illegal on the other side of the border. Therefore, big amount of Turkish people making the casinos and hotels full by coming here mostly on weekends.

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As we got used to see in modern cities, Batumi also knows very well about the popularity of making selfies. In that sense, the statue of Ali and Nino became one of the most popular icons of the city. This metal artwork, also known as the Statue of Love, created by Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze and it was inspired by the love story of an Azerbaijani Ali and Georgian princess Nino.

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They consistently were trying to get together, however the fade was keeping them apart. When they were finally able to come together, sadly, the war showed up and Ali is killed. The moving statues reflect their lovely yet gloomy efforts.    

While developing into one of the top touristic cities in the country, Batumi presents some modern look of architecture as well. One of them which is in the newly urbanized part of the city, already became a landmark.

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This is the building I am talking about. It is a project by Georgian architect Giorgi Khmaladze, and it is hosting a world-wide known fast food chain.

And let me tell you something about our trips: On our trips I am responsible to mark buildings on the map, and my wife is responsible to mark the food places. And we both accept our choices without any questioning each other’s niches. But since by choosing this building I touched her zone, I had to convince her to keep it on our map, because she never marks a fast food place unless they are preparing street food.

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When we entered the building, the lobby met us where you are ordering your food and the very first thing that I realized was that the fast food prices got so much higher than before. I mean it was affordable when I was a student, they got as expensive as in a normal restaurant. Am I wrong? Don’t you agree with me? Please write down below that I am not exaggerating.

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Ok, let’s get back to the building: On left and right sides of the cashiers there are stairs climbing up, which are leading you dining spaces on upper levels. Although right after the first couple of bites, we regretted that we violated our oath, it was nice that you are far away from the hustle and bustle of the lobby, while eating your meal on these intermediate decks.

But there is a tricky thing inside. Even though the shape of the building is unusual, it is not hard to relate. It doesn’t take much time to accept this futuristic outlook. Yes, it is maybe sharp, but I can tell that it is decent as well, in terms of symmetry and its scale.

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The tricky part comes inside as I said. Once you are on the narrow dining layers, a wall on one side, a stair on the other with odd glass shelves and hanging lights above are a bit coming down on you. Interior doesn’t look as futuristic as the building looks from outside and that carefully formed envelope looks too random inside. The profiles of the glasses create a slight eyestrain, unlike the architects attempt to offer view towards outside water features.

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The biggest dining space is on the top level, where you can also get an open air patio too. Architect aimed to provide a calm open air seating by covering the sides to protect this space from outside noise. They also added a vegetation layer here.

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I can tell that here is protected by the street noise indeed, however facing that this place is being used by the smokers as well kills your outdoor pleasure. This outdoor yard is on the stretched out part of the building and that part is also a canopy. Be sure that other things are going on under that canopy.

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No, it’s not a casino but a gas station instead. Yes, these two programs, dining and vehicle services, are successfully isolated from each other. This was one of the main concerns of the architect.

And I guess these two functions must be the reason why on this video I started with you my American friends. This building under one roof, or maybe I should say, under a cantilevered glass shell with a polyhedral structure, provides two essentials of our modern world: a gas station and a fast food restaurant.

The building got attentions from all over the world and one website helped on this a lot.

Probably the most popular architectural online platform archdaily.com has building of the year awards and this building was awarded the Best Commercial Building of 2014. These awards are based on web-site users votes since they don’t believe that expert juries are necessary to determine quality architecture. I like archdaily and that approach is one of the main reasons for me to start this YouTube channel as well. I do believe that architecture should be discussed more often outside of the construction community.

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However, these awards made me think that they are based on the pictures of the building rather than the spaces they are offering. I mean how many people really had chance to visit the buildings they are voting for?

But let’s be fair! I know I am using this phrase a lot, but fairness is an important merit, isn’t it? So considering that both two functions of this building are stopovers, maybe we shouldn’t focus that much on the interior spaces, but its perception in the city instead, caused by such futuristic outlook.

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Beside how many buildings are standing up to the strong standards of such highly popular worldwide food chain. Architect achieved that by being unique, rather than just trying to convince the owner with any kind of resemblance to that golden M letter.

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I mean look at this! This is a local restaurant just a couple of blocks away from this building.

So what do you think of our standards of modern cities and non-standard resistance in it? Write me down below.



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