Three years ago, Georgia's landscape had yet to be festooned with Jürgen Mayer H.'s squiggly infrastructural projects, commissioned by President Mikheil Saakashvili as part of ambitious plans to brand the region a tourist destination for vacationers from Europe and the Middle East--on the agenda: UNESCO world heritage sites such as local medieval churches and towers by days, trips to the casinos and clubs by night. Today, the country is home to the largest concentration of Mayer's work, a veritable petting zoo of grazing baubles featuring a slew of the architect's blunt, but inviting critters. In that incredibly short time period, Mayer and co. have built several structures of all scales, ranging from a small airport and sculptural checkpoint border tower to a compact police station, frilly cafe pavilions, and most recently, a chain of angular rest stops.
The rest stops are located adjacent to a new highway running through the Georgian interior to connect Azerbaijan and Turkey. Of the three stops planned, two have been built, while the last is currently under construction. Each has been site to frame scenic panoramas and to attract tourist dollars (lari) to surrounding towns and local business and services, including farmers' markets and cultural municipal centers.
The architecture is typical of Mayer's propensity for unexpected, yet safe geometries that mimic and abstract the natural landforms they behold, turning them into cheeky caricature. On the other hand, the rest stops' modest proportions do pack considerable visual punch, even if it's not particularly memorable. As writer Jonathan Meades would say, they're a couple of good not-so ol' fashioned 'sight bites'.