Tbilisi — Think of public spaces in big cities, and formal parks, bustling markets and grand squares come to mind. Think again. In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, residents have redrawn the map and come up with innovative ways for locals to congregate in their ancient and fast-changing city. A boxing ring was built on a bridge. Next to it, architects installed art to amuse commuters as they hurried over the river. The grimy gaps between garages were turned into a “stadium” where locals could face off over dominoes. Inside the disused garages, bakeries, barbers and beauty salons plied their trade. It is not how most cities do public spaces, but Tbilisi — which stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia — has a long history shaped by diverse masters, all of whom left their architectural imprint on the Caucasus. As the city shakes off decades of Soviet rule and reinvents itself again, developers have bent once-tight planning rules and a building boom is under way - one that is changi...

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