Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H


Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Drivers crossing the coastal border between Turkey and Georgia will now pass below a knobbly observation tower by Berlin architect J Mayer H.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

The bumpy tower, which sits atop the Sarpi Border Checkpoint building, houses a series of elevated terraces within its folds.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Above: photograph is by Beka Pkhakadze

The curved two-storey building beneath the tower integrates customs facilities with a café, staff room and conference rooms.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

This year architect J Mayer H also completed a controversial timber canopy across a public square in Spain - see readers' comments on the project here and see more projects by the architect here.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Photography is by Jesko Malkolm Johnsson-Zahn, apart from where otherwise stated.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Above: photograph is by Beka Pkhakadze

The text below is from J Mayer H Architects:

Sarpi Border Checkpoint in Georgia
Completion of Construction

November 2011 marks the completion of Sarpi Border Checkpoint. Designed by J Mayer H architects the customs checkpoint is situated at the Georgian border to Turkey, at the shore of the Black Sea.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Above: photograph is by Beka Pkhakadze

With its cantilevering terraces, the tower is used as a viewing platform, with multiple levels overlooking the water and the steep part of the coastline.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Above: photograph is by Beka Pkhakadze

In addition to the regular customs facilities, the structure also houses a cafeteria, staff rooms and a conference room.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Above: photograph is by Beka Pkhakadze

The building welcomes visitors to Georgia, representing the progressive upsurge of the country.

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

J Mayer H Architects
Project Team: Juergen Mayer H, Jesko Malkolm Johnsson-Zahn, Christoph Emenlauer

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Project: 2010-2011
Completion: 2011

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Client: Ministry of Finance of Georgia
Architects on Site: Beka Pkhakadze, Ucha Tsotseria

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Building Company: JSC Transmsheni
Structural Engineering: LTD BWC

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

Structural Engineering of Tower: Nodar Edisherashvili

Sarpi Border Checkpoint by J Mayer H

  • moon

    It looks like a disfigured 1960's spaceship with a caravan on top.

  • arthurmani

    Can anyone explain this project please ? It looks very arbitrary ! Why the rounded folds ?

    • H-J

      It's obviously based on the rolls of fat that bulge over the belt of the border control guard, how could you have missed that?

      • Nick

        good humour but I know that they specifically choose beautiful girls as customs officers. the concept is that the country starts from border. :)

    • Steve

      Looking at the section, you can sort of see how the rounded folds sticking out of the sides of the tower are actually observation terraces, quite appropriate for a border checkpoint. Shame on dezeen for not including the photos from above which actually show them, at least the drawings are there.

      Try actually reading the sparse explanation between the photos, I know the words are easy to miss with your finger grinding away at the mouse's scroll button.

    • jackie

      particularly to look unthreatening. I'd go so far to say it's inviting. Even beautiful. And why not. Hurray – this is a fabulous creation.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Make it stop.

  • xtiaan

    Woha! I love it, but I kind of really hate it too.
    If it was a hotel or something Id loathe it outright, but as a peice of political/military/functional architecture Ive got a bit of a crush, I mean we've all seen how they usually play out.

    I think this'll be like all that wonderfully mental 70's space insipred/brutalist soviet archeitecture, in 25yrs it'll be perfect. People will say "OMG they were cray-cray round the turn of the century with their buildings that look like old flash graphics",

    ok mabey not those exact words, but you know what i mean….

    • amsam

      xtiaan, there is not a big enough "like" button to express how I feel about this comment.

  • Thomas

    Drip edge? Balcony? Handrail? Program?
    Erich Mendelsohn is rolling over in his grave.

  • That's not a building —that's a Dr. Seuss' illustration!

  • Student

    Snoopy Tower! Cool! Comic architecture? A new style?

    • jackie

      Why not a new style?

  • toomuchcoffeeman

    welcome to Georgia.. country of wobbely lines and massive alcohol consumption.

  • Peter

    One day big furry extraterrestrials will come and use it as a comb.

  • dcbcn

    Really quite impressed that this was approved and built by a government ministry. Absolutely no way anyone in the US government would have the guts to even consider such a proposal. Not sure if I love the building, but I love that it got built.

  • kamadeva

    it's horrible :(

  • Ryan

    This is beautiful.

  • ivan

    Oh my god, it's a Snoopy silhouette!

  • noyz

    What's the name of the cartoon???. Barbapapa at the border.

  • mike


  • xysda

    to me it reminds of a puzzle piece with the round edges and shape, like a connecter piece between the two countries….

    • jackie

      you got it!

  • The hole building is GRATIS—FREE, all the forms were designed without a justifying thought , simply formalist , and in my opionion a bad one.

    • jackie

      if you could spell whole correctly one might overlook your rigid thinking…..there are justifying thoughts – and feelings – behind this building's form.

  • Julius Jääskeläinen

    It's a beautiful Duck. (see Venturi, duck vs. decorated shed) Beautiful exactly because it makes no sense. As for architecture? Well firmness, utility, beauty – two out of three, arguably, ain't bad. And is life span an issue for this kind of building?

  • rock

    cartoon folly + simple icon
    georgia met turkey + they made a duck building

  • It looks like the architect bought a new stencil that he really wanted to try.
    Can't imagine why else?

  • negma

    loads of comments though… perhaps it is what our controversial numb society needs. there is no reason. just a form. architecture becoming more arbitary than sculpture.
    i mean u look at this and you think, this could be? housing? museum? office building? cafe with a terrace?

    nevertheless I do not think it is bad as architecture but it testifies the stage that we are in globally.

    if this was done by a starchitect that likes childish curves , there would possibly be less comments and more likes.

  • Edouard

    designed in 10 minutes.

  • edc

    snoopy surfing out to the sea. what fun!

  • junihaoni

    i wished it was pink. white just didn't do any justice.

  • Greenish

    Well, I love it. If you said "Border Observation Tower" to me I would imagine grey, imposing, cold. This is the opposite – light, friendly and fun. Why the hell not?

  • Greenish

    Also I know you people love your weird building nicknames, but a duck? Seriously?! This is like cloudwatching with shortsighted people who are also insane.

    • ehm, duck doesn't mean that it is shaped like one, they refer to Robert Venturi's "duck" (an ungainly building in which the whole form and its function are tied together) this comment is like cloudwatching with people who have no notion about architectural history

      • Greenish

        Haha! 1-0 to you – my fault for skim-reading and holding an irrational grudge for silly building nicknames :)

  • Tray

    Meyer is overrated and repeats himself in a BAD way.Poseur willing to do everything, even with extracorrupt regimes.Sad

  • Zvorangutangi

    I passed through it by chance a while ago.. The interior is quiet nice and passing it is quiet comfortable. as for the architecture it's really unexpected for that thing to be there, it really makes u stare for some time being in confusion whether to cry or lough. but it is more comedy than drama…

  • Nicole

    You are all upset by the outside, but, come on, what about the interior, there wasn't any fantasy left!

  • jackie

    I find it hard to believe that Dezeen followers are having such a hard time with this building. Why?
    It IS light and friendly and unthreatening – a major international and long term statement of intent in a world where borders are more often tense, testing grounds of changing politics and policies.
    Incredible it actually got built!

    • Dan

      Why? look at it!
      it's on a par with gough's new maggie's centre in the aesthetic sensitivity stakes.
      I'm completely bemused by them both…

  • imho hot garbage but hey if there is a niche for it…