From Chaotic Construction to Coevolution: Tbilisi’s 2019 Master Plan and the Right to the City


  • Evangeline Linkous University of South Florida




Although planning in post-socialist cities has long suffered from a legitimacy crisis, recent research identifies a “cautious revival” for planning buoyed by strengthening economic conditions, urban activism, and European Union (EU)-led interventions (Slaev and Hirt 2022). This paper examines the revival of planning in post-socialist urban space through a case study of Tbilisi, Georgia’s 2019 Master Plan—by all accounts a more comprehensive urban policy framework than any previous planning effort in Georgia post-independence. In response to the chaotic construction spawned by the aggressively neoliberal urban policy framework evident since the 2000s, Tbilisi’s new plan posits a pragmatic right to the city agenda—fostering social inclusion, environmental protection, and livability—but in cooperation with market processes, private property rights, and multinational investment. The plan is also noteworthy for fostering a coevolution of local governance institutions and for its alignment with international best practices including EU accession criteria. 

The case study draws on planning documents, media coverage, and interviews with 17 experts involved in Tbilisi planning conducted in 2022. The adoption and implementation of Tbilisi’s plan has the potential to yield a coevolution of local governance institutions, now oriented for the first time since independence to administer long-term urban policy. While full implementation of the plan vision will likely be limited by existent processes of state capture, the plan offers a promising new framework for urban governance and the social function of urban space. Although Georgia exhibits troubling signs of democratic backsliding, Tbilisi’s plan asserts alignment with international best practices including European Union accession criteria—thus serving as a potent geopolitical tool.

Author Biography

  • Evangeline Linkous, University of South Florida

    Evangeline Linkous, PhD, AICP is an Associate Professor in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of South Florida. She studies the fiscal and legal instruments used to manage land in areas of growth and change. Her research has been published in journals including the Journal of the American Planning Association and Land Use Planning.  She has a Ph.D. and Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in English from New College of Florida. In 2022, she was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to study planning policy and institutions in the Republic of Georgia.



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Rekhviashvili, Lela. (2016) 'Counterbalancing Marketization Informally: Georgia’s New-Institutionalist Reform and Its Discontents', Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 24(3), pp. 255-272.

Salukvadze, Joseph and OGolubchikov, Oleg. (2016) 'City as a Geopolitics: Tbilisi, Georgia—A Globalizing Metropolis in a Turbulent Region', Cities, 52, pp. 39-54.

Salukvadze, Joseph and Van Assche, Kristof. (2022) 'Multiple Transformations, Coordination and Public Goods. Tbilisi and the Search for Planning as Collective Strategy', European Planning Studies. doi: 10.1080/09654313.2022.2065878.

Slaev, Aleksandar and Hirt, Sonia. (2022) 'Planning, Pluralism, Markets: Experiences from Post-Socialist Varna', Planning Theory & Practice, 23(3), pp. 461-475. doi: 10.1080/14649357.2022.2061774.