Crabs, bats and communists, in Cuba's greatest Soviet souvenir.
Laguna Vere was opened in 1978: a swimming pool and sports complex, designed by Shota Kavlashvili, Guram Abuladze and Ramaz Kiknadze. The building sits close to the centre of Tbilisi – its interior featuring saunas, gym rooms and a cafe, all contained within a striking Brutalist exterior.
Today the place is completely abandoned.
We snuck in around the back, down an alleyway where black bin bags had burst, to spread a loam of broken bottles, nappies and hypodermic needles. It wasn’t pretty, but tumbling into the dark, cool basement was a beautiful relief – after an afternoon spent walking in the scorching sun of a Georgian summer.
That week, we saw a lot of abandoned buildings. This one was better preserved than most; it wasn’t the easiest place to access, so perhaps that had kept out some of the looters and metal thieves. Our effort was rewarded as we wandered through gymnasiums filled with exercise bikes, weights, mats and treadmills. In an office room, I opened a cupboard to find shelves buckling beneath the weight of ledgers and photo albums.
Once I find time to write this up, I will research all I can about Laguna Vere… its years of use, and the reasons for its closure and abandonment. But for now, you can take a look at my photographs, below.