The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 31 January 2011. This report addressed the requests of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session. It reports that an action plan for addressing the corrective measures is being compiled with input from an international conservation architect, who has been appointed by the State Party as a consultant. On 3 May 2011, the State Party officially submitted two reports by this consultant on issues related to the Bagrati Cathedral rehabilitation project.
a) Halting of reconstruction work
The State Party has confirmed that, in response to the World Heritage Committee’s request, all interventions have now been halted.
b) Elaboration of an overall consolidation project and reversal of interventions, entirely or in part
In response to the World Heritage Committee’s request to seek advice from international conservation engineers and conservation architects, the State Party reports that it has appointed a conservation architect as consultant for Bagrati Cathedral who made his first visit to the property in January 2011. He has been asked to provide detailed guidelines for the rehabilitation of the Cathedral. A Working Group at the National Agency will also draw on advice from other experts.
In his report, the consultant noted that Georgian engineers are working on a three phased approach to the Cathedral:
i) In-depth architectural-historical study and archaeological research, aiming to understand the technical condition of the church;
ii) Reinforcement of the foundations, reinforcement of walls and other works so as to reach anti-seismic resistance (up to 8 degrees);
iii) Rehabilitation of the church.
The consultant also reported that the four central pillars that had been under reconstruction during the 2010 mission have now been partly rebuilt. The lower parts of the stone pillars have been replaced by reconstructed pillars with new foundations using root piles (20m deep). The reinforced concrete core is covered by ashlar stone. The foundations of a part of the external walls have been reinforced as a sandwich structure but without root piles. The upper part of the structure remains unroofed.
The consultant states that the project being considered by the authorities foresees that the reconstructed pillars, together with further reinforcement from a concrete ring at the top of the external walls, will form the structural basis for a new roof structure and tower.
The consultant further states that considering that Bagrati Cathedral is located in a seismic region, the current incomplete structural condition is not sustainable. However the consultant also considered that it might not be feasible to demolish what has been built as the interventions have been far-reaching and almost irreversible.
The consultant’s report suggests that one solution might be to keep the four central pillars and link them above with a structural ring and then to construct a lightweight roof in steel on top of this structure. However to produce an enclosed building, it would also be necessary to complete the tops of the external walls in masonry, in a way that is compatible with the reinforced concrete structure linked to the central pillars. Any solution would also need to address the consolidation of the unstable west facade of the building.
c) Conservation of Gelati Monastery
The State Party reports that the works are continuing to ensure step by step rehabilitation of the monastic complex and to improve the visitor infrastructure. The works undertaken in 2010 in conformity with the rehabilitation programme and the conservation master plan, included the activities funded by the State’s budget and by the Fund for Preservation of Georgia’s Historical Monuments, namely:
· Conservation of the wall paintings of the St. George church;
· Rehabilitation of the St. George church;
· Rehabilitation of the bell tower;
· Rehabilitation of the South entrance gate (the gate of the David the builder).
d) Management Plan
The State Party reports that a working group has been set up to develop the Management Plan for the property. An international expert will assist the State authorities in defining strategies for improved management of the World Heritage properties in Georgia.
e) Clarification of the boundaries and buffer zone
The State Party reports that updated maps were presented in 2009 as part of the Retrospective Inventory.
f) Coordination between the Georgian Church and the national authorities
The rehabilitation of Bagrati Cathedral was presented at the international seminar on the Role of religious communities in the management of World Heritage properties (Kyiv, November 2010). The State Party notes that it was particularly important that the official representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church were also present in the Georgian delegation together with the national monuments protection authorities. The State Party considers that the improved coordination and close cooperation with the Church representatives is a great step forward in addressing the decisions of the World Heritage Committee.