The FINANCIAL -- Interview with Shorena Darchiashvili, Deputy Director of M2
Q. What has changed in the last year at M2?
“The current year has been quite busy, because we are actively working on two important areas of residential development. First of all, there’s the completion of already-started construction projects and the settling in of residents. This process started in the summer and is ongoing: it involves the final completion of apartments’ renovation works in preparation for being lived in.
The second area is to work on new projects. In the fourth quarter we are waiting for the presentation of a new large district. This is a new concept and we want to offer our customers an absolutely new lifestyle, which will be oriented on outdoor activities. We are trying to bring people out of their homes and offer them a concept that will make their lives more interesting and dynamic.
Different interesting and important projects are being implemented. Among them is a project of a 1000 room hotel network to be carried out within a 3 year period not only in Tbilisi, but in different regions of Georgia.
Q. What are some of the new technologies you have started using for your projects?
A. Here we can mention Kazbegi 2’s project which was constructed using completely new technologies, including a modern façade and sound insulation systems. We invited an external company to test the quality of the soundproofing in real life and they got good results. We compared the noise coefficient between flats and rooms and compared them to the Finnish standard (which is considered one of the highest in Europe). We ended up getting a 5 decibels high result.
The façade itself is different, aquapanel and gypsum boards are built around a metal frames around a metal door, which protects the building from noise, while the sandwich creates an ideal package providing both energy efficiency as well as sound isolation - ensuring that the noise of the city does not reach inside the apartment at all.
Q. What do you think about the architecture of Tbilisi?
A. In my opinion it is very eclectic with old districts, post-Soviet elements, buildings of old constructivism and modern buildings. Recently it has become more diverse and fully saturated with different buildings. More structured architectural directions are perhaps desirable, and the city’s development plan should provide these. In general, any novelty in architecture has always been a subject of dispute and dissatisfaction, and it is such architectural designs that ultimately become a city’s calling card. So what seems new now might be considered trendy in the future.`
In general, any novelty in architecture has always been a subject of dispute and dissatisfaction, and it is such architectural designs that ultimately become a city’s calling card.
Q. What differentiates M2 from the rest of its competitors?
A. Our main point is that we are trying to be one step ahead in terms of customers’ needs, to create services that are not yet in demand in Tbilisi and in Georgia. Initially, when we started offering renovated apartments, it wasn’t immediately popular. However, today the concept has become quite popular because it is considered comfortable due to all of the additional services that are provided along with the apartment itself. And it is now a challenge for us to finish constructions in the shortest time possible.
Energy-efficient constructions were also very new, but now customers have felt that it’s not only good for the environment but also economical.
The systems that we are offering, such as fire systems and water pumps, are also in demand and conventional, and in some cases connected to legislation. Fire safety norms, which we already had, were previously ignored in the legislation but are now strictly mandated. We’re constantly looking forward to innovation in order to create optimal living conditions for our customers.
Q. What does your company do in regards of CSR?
A. The greatest positive environmental impact of our products is that they are made using energy efficient construction. This is due to the fact that energy efficient buildings consume less energy, less gas, which in turn reduces emissions and negative environmental impacts.
We know that cars are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution. Consequently, it is the best prevention if society switches to electric cars. For this to be possible though it is very important that the infrastructure of a network of electrical chargers is in place. We believe that this is a very important investment in the direction of CSR and to that end we signed an agreement on the installation of equipment for up to 100 electric charging ports in Tbilisi and in different regions.
In the direction of planting, we are creating as much green space as the project and the area allows for. Of course this is a drop in the ocean and is not enough. The biggest project we have carried out, costing GEL 200,000, was a project of the fire-ravaged Mtatsminda hill which includes the maintenance, monitoring and irrigation of the plants there. 3000 trees were planted over 20 000 m2 as part of that project. I think this has proved to be a very important project for us as well as for the whole of Georgia.
In the direction of CSR, we also pay much attention to adapting environments. Along with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health we have implemented the construction of a children’s home for those with disabilities. Investment in this project was half a million. Construction was completed in 2018 and by the end of November the children’s home will be officially opened. Construction of this project has been funded entirely by M2 and is fully adapted to the needs of the children.
Q. How is the demand for housing changing?
A. The demand is changing very fast. However, as we look at it, this is based on the decisions we have made and offered. Former demand was for the separated kitchen, and then a studio. Now the market is balanced, diversified. We are trying to make the demand tailored to the purpose and need of purchasing a home.
Our new direction is M2 rent: a new service that includes the renting and selling of apartments. We also added a supervision and maintenance service. Such services are very highly demanded by our customers and we are pleased to see that modern customers are demanding a complete chain of service and experience where their involvement will be minimal.
Q. How do see your role in the development of the city’s future?
A. We see a clear role for us in this. But the development of the city in my mind cannot happen in just 1 or 2 years. This is a long-term process and such developer companies as M2, as well as Tbilisi City Hall, the municipality, or even just citizens, must jointly create the outward appearance and product of a city to ensure maximum living comfort. This goal must ultimately be achieved through joint work and cooperation.